Embarking on the journey towards the “magic FI number” some years ago, and then pushing the big red FIRE button in December 2020, launched a series of FIREworks of special effects in me. One of these special FIRE effects I’ve named the “acceleration effect”.
This special effect you may have heard of, as perhaps it goes by other names too, has actually nothing to do with the accumulation of material wealth as often FIRE terminology implies, but everything to do with the re-discovering and re-launching of your inner self instead. But in case you have no clue what I’m talking about, just hang in there for a moment, as I’d like to present you with one of the many wonders of a life of FIRE. It’s one of the many great reasons to get all FIREd up if you haven’t yet but been pondering whether you should. Or if you are already there with me, on the journey or perhaps even retired, to identify with in your own unique way, and perhaps stop to wonder how you were transformed in the process yourself. (Whichever way may be yours – do let me know your thoughts on it and what it means to you, in the comments section below!)
The “acceleration special effect”, is one which I stumbled upon some time ago whilst deep into the journey towards FI. Its powers, almost as with the waving of a magic wand, worked to unblock, release back to motion and then hugely accelerate life changing processes deep inside of me. It awakened dreams of old, some of which were dormant, and as if “dreamt by no-one” for decades. And once “accelerated”, these dormant dreams started downloading again and queuing up into new and fresh life re-generating workflows of the mind and the soul.
I’ll give you an example next, so you won’t think I totally lost the plot here during the past few months since I FIREd, and now turned onto some totally bizarre nonsense preaching FIRE priest.
As a teenager, nearing the end of high-school graduation, I thought I would study philosophy. I pictured myself graduating from high-school one sunny summer morning, and after a long and beautiful summer holiday, deep diving into a magical world of wisdom and fine literature, where I would solve ancient existential problems of life, the universe and all that wonderful jazz. And of-course like Albert Camus at the very least, I would be this uber cool giant of wisdom. Only that my version would be a long haired hippy’ish kinda guy, wearing jeans and T-shirts, and with none of that French raincoat 60’s style Absurdist philosopher’s fashion. There I’d be, walking around the university campus with a cigarette in the corner of my mouth, some ancient books under my left arm, and a beautiful girlfriend under my right arm. Needless to say, when the time came to make up my mind, I ditched this wonderful dream brutally by the side of the road, got “a haircut and a real job” so to speak, and off I went right the other way.
I thought – and in hindsight perhaps wisely – that following such dream, in the penniless state I was in, and albeit that is exactly how Camus started, would pretty much be the opposite of wise and eventually the end of me and of all my dreams. I would be making an impractical choice I thought. One that would leave me no doubt begging for food by the side of the road well into adulthood.
And so, I made way to be driven instead by the survival of the fittest mode and in the form of capitalist reward – utilising other character strengths that I had and knew I could realise in the free markets – shelved my philosophers stone – and went to study into the practices of the international business arena. And thus, I set the course towards the practical – but admittedly soulless – international business scene of the corporate world of NASDAQ giants.
The world I entered, as I soon found out, was one of fancy suits, sushi for lunch, long evenings at the pub pouring gallons of beers of endless rounds to my colleagues and clients, taxis to airports, planes across ponds, flashy conferences, wolf of wall street like parties (well, almost…) and the cashing of fat bonus checks. But years later, and when most of the excitement already gone, and when waking up in Vegas (and as the saying goes, nobody wants to wake up in Vegas…), I was left with an existentially unsatisfying loneliness at the far end of those business adventures.
Something just wasn’t entirely right and yet I wasn’t quite sure what was missing either. And although choosing the wonders of capitalism got me FIREd eventually –and as Sinatra sang in Vegas more than once “regrets, I have a few but then again, too few to mention” – plenty more grey hair and a bigger beer belly later, I discovered in the mirror, a part of my soul that I unknowingly neglected for way too long, staring right back at me.
Looking right back at me from the mirror – as I noticed ever clearer when nearing the big moment of FIRE – there was that “teenager me”, with all these wonderful bucket list of dreams in his eyes, and that I ditched by the side of the road all those years ago. That part in me, that I made step aside and make way for “real world” practicalities, never actually left the scene. He just sat down on the bench I guess and watched as a more dominant character – the businessman man me – stole away the show. It was not his time yet, but he remained patient and to my astonishment was now back. And as the more dominant character – the business me – had his run and grew bored and disillusioned with the corporate hamster-wheel, and the closer to FIRE I got, the teenager me, with his big unfulfilled dreams in his eyes, got back up again and claimed another audition.
Perhaps he was pulling strings behind the scenes all those years. Planning his return to the centre stage. Or maybe he and I were in this together, I’m really not so sure anymore. But now, this time powered by special FIRE effects, he found his perfect opportunity for the great return. And I found myself applying to university once more. He got the part this time you see. And a go at a post graduate degree in Philosophy. It was the acceleration special effect that worked its magic there. In FIRE, there simply are far less fear factors, “practical” factors, or any other existentially limiting factors, blocking the way to the launching of riskier, dream factors.
And that is the real magic of FIRE: having ALL options back on the table, once more.
One can truly choose any, or none of those long forgotten dreams or anything at all one conceives, and do so without having to worry of whether any of these goals or dreams stand in a way of “a real job”, or what your boss would have to say about them, or how society may value your efforts, or anything else of such minor importance.
And having ALL options on the table again, mind you, means just that.
The suit is still very much hanging in the closet should you want it back on. The jeans and t-shirt days are back the very minute you say the word. And so, you can set yourself free again to realise your dreams. And this time, not as a teenage-rebel without a clue. But instead, with the experienced older wizard you now are as a guide on your quest, and a magic acceleration wand to free you up from financial worries, fast forwarding yourself onto living the dream.
Though, mind you, you haven’t heard me saying that living the dream is free from any struggles. Obviously personal growth comes with its very unique set of challenges and growth pains. The “acceleration effect” awakens these struggles too, and hands them back to you, and this time on steroids. But these are the struggles, I dare say, you really wish back into your life. For this latest set of challenges may have something to do with having forgotten somewhat how to actually be free to realise yourself in the first place. And it can get confusing at times. Even scary. Stepping back into the sun, after all these years in a cold iron corporate mould can leave a person somewhat institutionalised and wearing an invisible straitjacket. And once the acceleration effect had hit you, and an unreal Shawshank redemption moment got unleashed, your version of your new re-loaded self may take some time to download…
…Free at last, you shout! and yet you may not remember just how to be. How to think originally instead of strictly thinking corporate thoughts you didn’t even realise you were thinking. How to publish one’s own words without caveating with “all thoughts are my own” – a sentence that implies everything but. How to speak in one’s own voice and not as a measured and diplomatic representative of. How to be truly creative instead of innovating within a set of castrating corporate guidelines or whatever arbitrary framework your boss may or may not think you should strictly abide with. How to re-invent, and once again re-launch into being, having forgotten just how to rebel against the pointless and meaningless…
All of that, and so much more is on the menu… – if you are brave enough to seek, and then also enter, this Aladdin’s cave that is. Yet the treasure is there too (!!) and that is a guarantee. And no, it has nothing to do with money or shares or any material possessions. But, if you do embark on the journey, and end up entering the cave and rub that lamp (…) you may just re-discover the powerful imaginative incredible genie part of your soul.
That is, you see, the true treasure that you accelerate onto.
The “acceleration effect” sets the wheels in motion, not only to eject you from an old and trotted path, and back to the table, with all your options available again, but it also creates a mega rocket launch towards a whole new adventure. The adventure inwards this time, towards the depths of your soul and which otherwise, and in other circumstances perhaps, may have been left by the side of the road until very old age…
Free from the crippling influence of debt, the addiction to monthly pay-checks and having to “play the game”, you are set free from the invisible straitjacket – many layers of which you never even realised you were wearing… When gifting yourself with the journey towards FIRE, and all the many difficulties it entails, you are not depriving yourself as many are so sure happens to the thrifty entrepreneurial spirits who dare, but instead you gift yourself all this incredible inner insight, a bundle of urgent growth pains and a powerful genie soul to make your dreams come true.
The acceleration effect works to download internal “superpowers” of the mind straight onto your consciousness – like in the Matrix. The FIRE battle after all, is not for some “magic FI number” or “early retirement extreme” or even for realising your dreams – but for the very setting free of your soul.
That’s to me what FIRE is all about. The rest is just boring financial detail.