Monday, September 21, 2015

Bus Days

Budgeting photos used to suck. Films were pricey, and then there was the developing, so you had to weigh the cost against how many moments you were going to want to capture. Take the number of days you were going to be travelling and how many frames there were on the spool. Then guess how many you could have each day. You obviously had no idea when the 'Kodak moments' were going to occur. In the first few days when your quota had run out, you had to balance whether the moment now is going to be worth sacrificing moments later. Sacrificing moments. A tragic first world problem.

Budgeting for holidays is a precursor for how you have to think about money when money stops coming in. This is before technology comes along and makes 'income' redundant because computers can do all the hard work we don't want to do ourselves. It is always fun to ask what people would do if they didn't have to work. Not a ridiculous situation where they could buy trips to the moon. If you had enough, how would you spend your time?

Until that time comes, we still have to think about the cost of each day. Moments tend to cost money. I have just arrived in Amsterdam. The last time I was here was in 1999. It was at the tail end of a Contiki tour that took me from having been to 2 countries in my life, to having to been to 19 over the course of 45 days. We had been warned that it was a city that would have lots of moments we would want to capture, and that they would cost a bit more. Like pictures, I had had to budget spending money for each day, but along the way had discovered the magic of a 'Bus Day'. Bus Days were the days you spent travelling and not spending. You didn't take any pictures. You just relaxed, chatted and watched the free scenery go by the window. I used my sketch book to catch unsuspecting, cornered, sleeping models. I learnt passages from an English/Italian version of Romeo & Juliet I had bought in Verona. Bus Days meant you had a few extra Mark, Drachma, Franc and Lira (the tour was just before the birth of the Euro).

I enjoy Bus Days. They tend to make the other days more pleasurable 'in comparison'. Tim Ferris discusses the mounting evidence that much of our happiness is relative. Relative to each other. Relative to our former selves. Relative to our dreams. 

'63.41% of Americans, assuming prices remained the same, would rather earn $50K in a world of $25K earners than earn $100K in a world of $200K earners' Tim Ferris

The advantage of adding a few Bus Days is they add fire power to the way you view other days. You have more energy. You have more money. You have more frames in your spool for moments. You also end up realising that Bus Days can be enjoyable in themselves. Stripping away as much as possible of the other stuff lets you see what you really enjoy. I am becoming more convinced that the thing I enjoy most is being deep in conversation with people. Scratching away at the wonder of our connections with this world. You can't capture those moments, you have to live them by being in them.
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