Not always is the path to financial freedom joyous. Some are forced to trod it for the sake of staying alive – what if your health grants you a paltry decade of working years before it fails? Then building wealth is crucial with what little time your failing health allows.
Flipped around, how can you accumulate enough wealth if you do act to sustain your health? How would you make full use of an early retirement if you drive yourself past exhaustion and ruin your health beforehand?
In youth you may feel as though life is limitless – that you will always have time to work. Yet limitlessness is as much an illusion as youthful invulnerability. All it takes is an instant to change that forever. Injuries, illness, or extraordinary events all the same can prevent you from ever working again. A healthy body is a privilege that can be lost through happenstance or neglect.
Enthusiasts of financial independence may challenge themselves to amass their stash within as short a time as reasonably possible. Given the uncertainty of life shouldn't we all rush to do the same?
My early lessons in the wealth of health came from watching my mother's brutal battle against breast cancer.
The first lesson is that freedom is about having the time to act as you wish – and nothing is more drastically untenable than facing death. Your freedom cannot withstand death (yet). Couple this with the fact that the leading majority of causes for death are preventable and your purpose should be clear. Help your health be good, or die trying.
Second is that a chronic illness must become your full-time job. Your limited time and energy will be engulfed by endless appointments, passing out to recuperate, communicating between doctors, and researching. There is little if any room for work there, which is why it is so crucial to amass your financial independence stash beforehand. Being chronically ill is expensive, and you shouldn't be pushing yourself to turn a profit at the same time.
Third comes the lesson that you must push your body to stay strong. My mother believed in hiking at high altitude. These hikes were feats of endurance for someone with a half-failing body, but they are only half the story. For every hike there were several low-intensity exercises to prepare herself such as walks and yoga. She managed to keep her quality of life higher for longer thanks to this combination of regular exercise and strenuous challenges.
Similarly I believe in daily walks as my low-intensity exercise, followed by strength training as the laziest way to get an effective challenge. More specific exercises and rules of keeping good health can be found all over the place and are better elucidated by experts.
The fourth and final lesson I will share today is that we do not choose how we are born unto this world, and we have little influence over how we exit it. We control only what we do when we are in it, and we are better off being graceful.
My mother spent years with "months left to live," and despite this she stayed joyous and grateful. Even when half her body was paralysed, she still managed to beam her smile on the working side of her face. Cherish the days in which you are healthy and happy, fight for your health when you are not, and do your best to bear all that life throws at you with grace.
Grace comes from both handling your own situation, and in helping others. Health is yet another wealth with which I must enrich my dearheart. He has not been so privileged with his health thus far, and I strive to improve that. Whether I lead by example, or serve as his motivator, I want to see him last.