Chase your own dreamsSun, 5th Aug '07, 1:20 am::
Two weeks ago, I wrote about my low-consumption lifestyle i.e. I rarely buy something unless I actually need it (food, shelter) or it actually improves the quality of my life (kayak, night out with friends). I feel vindicated that New York Times just published an article titled "In Silicon Valley, Millionaires Who Don’t Feel Rich." It begins with the story of a couple living in the fabled Silicon Valley (where we went/won) and have a net worth of $3.5m yet feel they are not well off enough. Their house is worth $1.3m but just because they are surrounded by people much wealthier than them (it's California after all), they feel poor. And people ask me why I don't move to the Valley.
Here's my favorite quote from the article: "I ask myself all the time," Ms. Baranski confessed, "why I do this." They go on to explain "that she must stick with it if they are to continue to live the life they enjoy here." On the surface, it's so easy to diagnose the problem here as greed, keeping up with the neighbors, or just mere pride and ostentation. But these are not stupid people we're talking about. These are self-made entrepreneurs, hard-working middle and upper management types with a Masters degree and contacts in every industry. These are the smart kids of 70's and early 80's who left their little homes in the country and moved to California for a bright future. Therein lies the problem.
They're no longer chasing their own dreams. They're just trudging along the path they're told leads to the American Dream. The desire to make it big and having the drive to do whatever it takes, is indeed the prerequisite for living the American Dream. I have nothing but praise for creative individuals who'll take a big risk to make something wonderful. However, there's a difference between "try try till you succeed" and eking a miserable living till some day you luckily hit it big.
To me, these once-promising people are just the more hard-working version of the lottery addicts who buy a $10 ticket every single day hoping to hit that $65m jackpot. I guess when I see things this way, I don't feel so bad for them. It's hard to. They're 20-50-100x wealthier than me and yet they whine and worry about whether $5m will be enough money for them to retire. It will be enough if they decide to move to Cape Coral, Florida and buy a $1m house right on the beach with their own dock. It won't be enough if they find out that their neighbor's house is worth $2m. And it will never be enough if they think that another $5m on top of their $5m is what will make them truly secure financially.