This was a question I latched onto more than anything at the prospect of embarking on a full year’s worth of travel in 2020. While it never came to pass, I reflect fondly on this particular mind-game. If am being honest with myself, I probably played it on a weekly if not daily basis.
It is nothing more than a simple thought experiment. If I won the proverbial lottery, what would I do? The simple and lowest-hanging answers included travel, new experiences, and living luxuriously. When all three were still on the table, I spent a lot of time researching on things I could do: take a Yoga instructors’ course in Bali, learn how to ski in Japan, hike the Himalayas for a few months. I lived without restraint. There were a lot of expensive meals, frivolous purchases, and general reverie. My optimism and yearning for adventure knew no bounds.
After a month of living with this mindset, I felt a little hollow. I missed the simplicity of having something to work on day-in-and-day-out. This was the point in the winning-the-lottery-game that I did not expect. Money was not something I had to worry about at least for the next year for I had plenty in savings. As much as living in excess sounded sans work sounded nice, I realised that living like I am playing Grand Theft Auto was not sustainable. This realisation dawned on me with more gusto two weeks into a planned three-month-plus backpacking escapade. I knew it was not something I could do indefinitely despite all the daydreaming of how magical it would be.
Once all the hedonistic endeavours were satisfied in this thought experiment, what next was there? Clearly having money is not the solution, as nice a thought it may be. Instead of living luxuriously, my mind came to prioritising living well. My eventual solutions to this new paradigm is nowhere near as sexy as a life of adventure and travels. Don’t get me wrong, travel and adventure in highly self-contained doses were still welcome. The rest of what the lifestyle looked like was decidedly simple. I would spend my days learning, reading, writing, and socialising – a life of balance. Eating out at a nice restaurant is welcome, but so is cooking something for myself at home. Hiking the Himalayas would make a great story, but so would reading a book that manages to consume me. In other words, when I got to the end of the rainbow and found the pot of gold, I realised I didn’t need all of it to live the way I wanted to.