The Big Picture

For some reason the past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about dying. Not specifically about what it would feel like when I die or where I would to (if anywhere) when I die. More along the lines of making sure that at the end of my life on earth I don’t have any regrets.

My brother and my mother both passed away at very young ages.

My mother at the age of 43 and my brother at 22. Both of the same disease in different forms: cancer.

However how they died isn’t the subject of this post. The subject of this post is what they wanted to do that they didn’t get to do.

My mother wanted to see Alaska. More than anything else she wanted to go there and see the land of the sun that never sets and glaciers and snow. In her mind that was where true beauty would exist. Her and my step-dad would plan for cruises there when she was in remission, then the cancer would come back and the trip would be cancelled. She never did get to see Alaska.

My brother was a music lover. He played the trombone and was fantastic at it. He had the top chair in our state’s orchestra for his last year in high school, and then the second chair his junior year. He ended up going to college the fall after my mother passed away (I had been in college for two years at this point), and he had a really rough time with all of the change. However, through all of it he still loved music. He was a music major and made some really great friends. When he was diagnosed with cancer two years into college he didn’t want to not see the things he wanted to like my mom. However, my brother didn’t have a lot of money. He ended up living with me for a year during my graduate school. And in 2004, four months before he passed away, we went to New York so that he could see the Phantom of the Opera (his favorite opera) and see the New York Philharmonic live (his second favorite Orchestra). My stepdad paid for my brother to do these things from money he had been saving.

The moral of these stories isn’t to make you all feel bad or to get sympathy or anything like that. I just was thinking about these things a lot recently because right now I feel like I have a very narrow picture of my money and what I want with it. I am so focused right now on getting out of debt, which I think is a GREAT thing.

However, I want to keep in the back of my head that money isn’t the end all be all, it is a tool to do the things that I want from life. We are given preciously short time, some shorter than others. And I want to make sure that my money is giving me the ability to enjoy the things in life that I want to enjoy. And I’m willing to forego something in order to gain others.

For instance, if you told me that I could spend $40/month on cable television for the next 10 years OR take a vacation every ten years to South America for a month – well, I would choose the new adventure every time. I love to travel and to visit new places, which is why I’m so heavily saving for it in my budget once I get out of debt.

I guess what I’m saying with this post is that, sometimes it is really important to remember that the accumulation of wealth isn’t everything. So are relationships. Experiences. Our integrity. And remember in your budget to account for time with the people you love, the experiences that you want to have, and to not lie, steal or cheat to get financial gains.

We only live once – and even if we do live again – we can’t take our monetary gains with us.

It is important to get out of debt, to live within our means, to save for retirement, ect. It is also important to remember that on our death bed we probably won’t wish we had made more money – we’ll probably wish that we had spent more time with our love ones and gone to Alaska.

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7 Responses to The Big Picture

  1. Jessie says:

    wow – that’s certainly something to think about. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. MPP says:

    Wow, thanks so much for sharing with us. I know you aren’t asking for sympathy, but I cannot help but hurt for what you must have gone through in the last few years. And you are so right! I hope to die with little regrets and lots of memories.

    • SS4BC says:

      Well, it has been 5 years since my brother passed away and 10 years since my mom, so I’ve learned to live with the loss. Lets hope that we all live with little regrets!

  3. I really wanted to send you an email, but couldn’t for the life of me find a link on your site. I could’ve (almost) written this post.

    And I totally agree with you.

    • SS4BC says:

      Yeah, I really need to get a site-specific email address. The one associated with my wordpress account is:

      fejacobsen at gmail

      So feel free to email if you’d like. =)

  4. eemusings says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m so sorry for your early loss. It’s people, not money, that make life worth living IMO.

  5. Airam says:

    With all this focus on saving money for a “rainy day” or for the future we do sometimes forget to live in the present and to enjoy what we have now. Thank you for reminding us what’s really important in life.

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