Lately I’ve been on the receiving end of an unfortunate list of adjectives: moody, gloomy, glum. My friends are telling me I’m no fun to be around and one even asked if I might be depressed.
“I’m tired,” I told her, and left it at that.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that wasn't the full picture. I’m bone tired, burnt out and feeling my creative juices drying up on a daily basis.
Hey, this isn’t rocket science. I haven’t had a real break in years – five years, to be exact. But taking a break is easier said than done. So when a close pal asked what would help, “Paris” was my first thought and “bucks” was my second. If you need to get away – long enough and far enough to make a difference – you need to be able to pay for it. And that’s where “fuck it money” comes in.
"Fuck it money" is what we expect to have after 25 years of nose to the grindstone. It’s what we hope will remain through the potential devastation of recession, the staggering cost of raising kids or the tsunami of a midlife divorce. It’s what we tell ourselves we’ll manage to accumulate again – in sufficient quantity to feel safe, to dare a dream, to muster the courage to say ‘fuck it’ – as a matter of mental health.
"Fuck it money" will fund the six-month tour through Europe, the extended holiday in the Orient, or devoting time to turning notes in a desk drawer into the great American novel. It’s the basis for the fantasy of buying a bed and breakfast in Vermont or purchasing a sunny flat in Barcelona.
In its purest form, "fuck it money" is the price of freedom – freedom to quit the job (without dooming yourself to poverty) or to start a business (without going into hock for life). It's freedom to hole up in a mountain cabin, or to take to the seashore, or to start over at 50 wherever you would like.
For me, the smallest sum required is $5,000. That puts me on a plane to Europe and keeps me there for a two-week stay. Naturally, my optimal amount delivers life-long security, which necessitates the addition of decimal places to pay off debt, assure my son his education, land me in a studio in Paris and provide a modest income to supplement my current earnings.
You may have something more grandiose in mind, but the end result is the same – walking away from whatever it is that weighs you down, doing it on your own terms, and then flying towards whatever it is that makes you happy.
Now and then, the man in my life mentions the possibility of retiring in five years time. When he does I mutter, “I should be so lucky.” Then I promptly count my blessings for the good things in my world, although this doesn’t alleviate the underlying problem – not only no retirement in my foreseeable future, but an absence of any “fuck it money.”
And that’s what it would take to cure what ails me – for now, the ability to rest; for later, a chance to experience my freedom.
To be clear – it isn’t that I want to stop achieving. I like working and I always have. What gnaws at me is the lack of time (and dollars) to enjoy the people and activities I love.
Mulling over my current state of affairs – one kid still in college and a stack of bills – the nest egg I once carefully nurtured is little more than a distant memory. At best, I imagine a day when I don’t risk losing a client because I insist on taking a week for myself. Maybe it’s to disappear overseas, maybe it’s to catch up on my reading; most likely it’s to visit my local writer’s café. That’s where I see the others like me – glancing up from their iPads with a faraway look in their eyes – counting their “fuck it money” and clinging to dreams.