Adam loaned me a finance biography, John Bogle’s “Enough.” Within, Mr. Bogle charts his trajectory from scrappy Philadelphia boy to mutual fund innovator and head of the canonical index fund at his company, Vanguard. Although Bogle dispenses financial advice, such as paradoxically never buy a mutual fund because the annual fees enrich the fund managers more than yourself, he also discourses much on the meaning of life. Nearing the end of his own life, Bogle wants to know what it’s all about and for what he has lived. Harkening back to the tenants of eighteenth-century America, Bogle extols the puritanical virtues of thrift, courage, honesty, boldness, compassion, teamwork, and charity. As Taylor Mac wrote, “in my profession as a starving artist, verbs are much more important than nouns.”
As my job stabilizes at the end of its fourth week and I settle well into my fourth decade on this planet, I too mull over life and why I live it. Most of me realizes I have enough. Someday I would like a small house with a tiny garden, maybe even a car to haul art projects, yet for now I don’t crave anything flashy or really anything much more than I already have now. I have enough stuff, and with the current salary, I have enough money.
Nonetheless, what is life – my life – all about? I’ve dedicated my working career to science, computers, and mid-size, start-up companies. I always wanted to mentor others, especially because in these cold scientific start-up companies, few managers extend an empathetic ear. My inkling is that in about a year at the current job, I’ll either start seeking new challenges elsewhere as a manager at a small company, or I settle satisfied into my current job while I tend to the other demands of my life.
At home, I continue to build increasingly-larger art projects. I feel like I need something to show for my free time, and blinky lights, arranged in geometric patterns, is what I produce. Are these LED installations enough? I dunno. Have soldering and sewing been merely a two-decade hobby that I may put away for some other pursuit?
I’d like to travel, see the world more fully. I’d like to touch more lives closely, whether that means a new set of local San Francisco friends or throw myself back into the dating pool. I’m feeling overall stagnant and lonely, but that may just mean January, new-found stability, and hopes for spring. Historically, I have been good at slowly pointing my compass towards my desires. I should plumb those desires. In the meantime, I need to unload a mutual fund.