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You Can, But Should You?

Being able to afford a black sleek Benz but not buying one is a very interesting dichotomy.

As a boy growing up I had a lot of insecurities about manliness and had no idea how to display it. Shit, back then I thought I had to display it. So it was a very pivotal moment in my life when I witnessed this big buff dude who could handle himself back down in an argument or not even try to be macho.

The reason I decided to write this post is that I get the sense that we as doctors are doing some things simply because we can. Yea I know I seem judgemental but remember that this entire blog is my own journey through figuring some shit out, I’m not saying I’m right.

Plenty of docs I worked with down in San Diego would pick up extra shifts because they could, because it paid more money and when more money was to be had they wanted more of it.

It’s a cycle though isn’t it? We want more things because we know we can have them if we just work a few more shifts.

That’s how people becomes tumors upon the world when hey act without considering all the consequences. Granted that many systems are intentionally designed to be sufficiently complex that understanding potential consequences can be damn near impossible.

Device manufacturers pay PR firms to advertise the company’s support for fair wages when manufacturing is taken overseas. Money is paid to bullshit entities to ‘offset’ the carbon footprint left behind by a company. Interesting isn’t it that a factory can pollute the shit out of the air but if you fail a smog test you’re not allowed to drive your car…

Some of my friends I grew up with in the gym wanted to keep getting bigger, because they could. At first it was adding just more protein to their diet, then it was creatine and you can imagine what was next.

Putting on our own breaks is fucking hard! It’s always much easier to look at some else’s life and recognize a silly lifestyle or a poor decision.

I know drivers who will drive as close as possible to the person in front of them not in order to ‘tailgate’ but simply because they are letting external circumstances set their limits. They are actually oblivious to their actions and its consequences. I am NOT a good driver and I’m sure I can be accused of much more than tailgating. The point is that we can act discordant to our beliefs unintentionally. The consequence sadly is the same.

Don’t many of us do this when it comes to mortgages? I mean if good financial advisers had their say and could decide who should get approved for what mortgage amount then suddenly doctors taking home $150k/yr would be limited to a $400k home with at least 50% down. Leave it up to us and you will have family medicine doctors in San Diego buying 1 million dollar homes left and right.

In another scenario, what if for the same $2,000/mo in rent one could get a 2-br but only needed a 1-br? Polling my friends I’ve found that few would go for the latter. Yet as a single dude I had a blast living in 140 sqft and find my 350 sqft studio to be abundantly spacious for myself and my boo.

The line gets crossed when we take into account convenience. I mean I could make my own bread every day but it’s convenient to buy it from the grocery store. Though I assure you my bread costs a ton less, tastes much better and has 5 ingredients all of which a 5 year old could spell. Oh, and I don’t have to waste the plastic bag it comes in (could be avoided by shopping at the farmer’s market).

Jumping into our cars is another action that many of us do just because we can. Forget how much you spent on your car. Forget how much more maintenance your vehicle will need due to your frequent trips. And forget the deleterious effects it has on your health being sedentary and anxious, sitting behind the steering wheel.

Let’s focus on the money spent on gas and the detrimental effects on the environment. You’re not the only one that Tuesday evening coming home from work and deciding to take that quick trip to the grocery store for the bag of chips with dip. How do I know? Because I see a shit ton of people in line at the grocery store who don’t look to be the biking sort whipping out their wallet to pay for 2-3 items.

Just because we have an A/C doesn’t mean we need to use it all the time. The worst part isn’t just the coal being wasted to create the juice needed to power up one of the least efficient inventions in history, it’s that you are losing your ability to adapt to your environment. With climate changes your sweat glands, your mitochondria and your skin’s vascular flow adapt according to seasons.

Maybe you think that I’m trying to live in the dark ages but if you read carefully I’m not suggesting that. I think there is a fine balance to be achieved and I’m ever so grateful for being able to regulate my environment’s temperature through electricity. But I’m fighting for that bit of self-sufficiency, independence and self-reliance which is something worthwhile, I believe that.

There is a feeling I have been fortunate to experience that I can’t quite describe. When I give my shoes to the cobbler to fix instead of tossing them, when I walk a commute instead of taking the bus or driving, when I make my own pizza from scratch, when I can my own veggies, when I fix my own bicycle and when I switch on a fan instead of an A/C.

Do you know what else self-sufficiency and self-regulation does for us? It dissolves fear. What if the electrical grid collapses, what if gasoline supplies dries up, what if a large global epidemic prevents access to usual health care, what if safe food becomes unavailable due to contamination, what if the internet goes out? Though quite unlikely it only takes a Google search to see what people really experienced during recent global crises which were completely unexpected.

I assure you that feeling of independence is worth experiencing. When you cancel your cable TV, when you disconnect from your car being your main mode of transportation, when you stop depending on 12 different personal hygiene products, when you switch to only 1 household cleaner, when you don’t use any plastic or paper bags. Each person/family can only extend themselves so far. If you own a business where you have to haul equipment around from job site to job site there is no way to get rid of your car, but can you have a car-free weekend?

You knew I was gonna end up with this statement eventually… just because it’s so easy to become dependent on one’s job doesn’t mean we have to. There are many steps each one of us can take to dissociate from the paycheck/spending cycle. It doesn’t need to be drastic, it could be something as simple as having a buffer built in, having 1 year of expenses saved in a savings account, maybe starting to invest and next diversifying one’s portfolio by investing in a small business or rental income.

 

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