Whether it is a case of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or dreaming of a Hotel California, The Accidental Investor Nick Warren ponders on dreams deferred and hopes delayed…
I got a call from a friend of mine in New York City the other day telling me that he was sorry we hadn’t spoken for a while. It’d been a few months it seemed to me but actually it was over a year according to the record of events we finally put together. At the time of the call he found himself outside a Brooklyn community centre sitting in a public park while his son was inside having a drumming lesson and he thought – ‘hey I’ve got a few minutes, who do I want to talk to?’ and it turned out to be me.
After some professional updates where we shared some bleats about the pressures of making a living, my friend told me that the big news on his end was that they were moving to Los Angeles and he wanted me to come over as soon as I could so we could hire a big gas guzzling convertible and drive across the desert to Las Vegas for three nights of drunken debauchery.
In fact it has been a great for the past twenty years since we first birthed that dream at poker club in the mid nineties. It was a great idea then because we were young men, unencumbered by serious commitments and the image of the ultimate trip to the poker capital of the world was a glittering possibility that sparkled on the near edge of the distant but totally possible.
We ended the call when his son finished his drumming lesson and we both had to return to our real worlds. I re-emerged into my own with a smile on my face. Wouldn’t that be great? To finally do that Vegas trip with Jonty! Still gripped by the possibility I did a quick mental inventory of my finances and forthcoming job commitments and realised that it could be done. I could put some money aside for the next few months and I could book a ticket and take some leave and I could be driving to Vegas with the music turned up loud and the wind blowing through my thinning grey hair and it would be great!
But wait, what was that bit back there about ‘thinning grey hair’?
Suddenly the brakes jammed on the dream convertible and I pulled over into the layby of my imagination listening to the silence of the desert for a few heartbeats. A slight breeze blowing bits of grit into the cracks of my wrinkled consciousness. The distant shriek of a buzzard circling overhead waiting to swoop down and feed off another broken dream. The ticking of the engine as it cooled down and transformed from a powerhouse of passion and purpose to a dead weight.
It occurred to me that there is nothing wrong with a bucket list unless it started life as a youthful fantasy that was never pursued with vim and vigour, but instead was shelved for the sake of financial expedience or some looming family obligation. Then that dream is no longer something you’re dying to do – it’s morphed into something you hope to do before you die.
I thought of all those times I’ve sat with life insurance advisors over the years and how their chilling question, ‘what if you unexpectedly die, how will you provide for those you leave behind?’ It’s a good question, of course, an important question to answer correctly. But so too is the new question I asked myself with my friend’s voice still ringing in my ears: ‘what if you unexpectedly live?’ It’s worth setting money aside for that eventuality too.