My mid-life crisis included the purchase of a black Ferrari with yellow calipers and stitching, and it happened in my early thirties. I hope that doesn’t mean that I’ll only live to be sixty-four, the age my dad died, because that’s just way too young.
The first thought in my head the morning I woke up after bringing the Ferrari home was not, ‘Awesome! There’s a Ferrari in my garage.’ It was, ‘Oh no. There’s a Ferrari in my garage.’
When I was eighteen I thought thirty sounded old. Back then I had both ears pierced, along with my tragus and my tongue. I swore that when I turned thirty I’d remove all my piercings and never wear one again. I thought that being over thirty and wearing piercings was just trying way too hard to hold on to being cool.
Then, before I knew it, I was thirty. I didn’t feel any different than I did when I was eighteen. Honestly, I didn’t feel much different than I did when I was eight. I did remove all my piercings, but all of the sudden fifty didn’t sound so old. I knew I wanted to be running marathons, motorcycling, skiing, traveling and spending active, meaningful time with my wife and kids into my eighties and beyond.
I decided to die broke and never retire.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to go broke by spending all my money. If the Ferrari definitively taught me anything it’s that money really can’t buy happiness.
Instead, I’m inspired by my dad’s thought that “Money’s just numbers on paper and a tool for doing good,” his direction to “Go about doing good until there’s too much good in the world,” and Andrew Carnegie’s perspective that “The man who dies rich, dies disgraced.” “Besides,” Carnegie wrote, giving his fortune away “provides a refuge from self-questioning.”
I was also impressed by something Arthur C. Brooks said when I heard him speak this week. He said that people who retire away from something (like a job) almost always experience decreased happiness, where people who retire toward something (such as engaging in philanthropy or other passion-driven work) usually experience increased happiness.
I determined to find a career that allows me to do work that I’m good at, that I enjoy, and that serves other people. I resolved to create, at least in concept, the future I that want now and to live into it a little bit more each day. I have learned to responsibly manage money, and this year I’ll establish a foundation in order to further the cause of freedom and to assist individuals in developing countries.
It’s been three and a half years, there’s snow outside, and I’m still paying for the Ferrari.
‘Oh no. It’s still there.’