A road trip to financial freedom

Will we live a long, long time? Only the well can tell

By Lizelle Steyn

14 July 2019

According to legend, if you look into the Well of Reflection at the cemetery of Koyasan (Japan) and do not see your own reflection, you will die within three years. So it happened that I contemplated my own mortality every step of the way back into the village, feeling a little pale and unsettled. I don’t know if it were the clouds that added to the illusion, but for the life of me I could not see my own reflection. My travel companions said they could, but it was as if I had gone blind to myself. I had ‘disappeared’.

This was on a two-week trip to Japan – my first visit and something that I’d been dreaming about for close to 20 years and saving up for most of last year. The night before we flew out I had coded most of this website except the blog section. I had every intention of starting off my first post with a light heart and some rare wit, just like all the other bloggers out there. But the theme of Death, its sudden appearance and the transience of life kept on popping up during our holiday. Maybe because I received notices of friends and family who passed away unexpectedly during our trip, and partly because I’ve had this feeling of being at a crossroad lately.

I would not want this to be your average ‘live frugally and twenty years later you will be in early retirement heaven’ blog. My dream for my life is that it and everything I do will be about the almost impossible art of bringing paradise – whatever your idea of it might be – into the here and now, while at the same time looking far ahead and taking responsibility for my own future and the legacy I leave behind. At times we will be frugal; other times we will throw caution to the wind and just revel in the miracle of life here and now, splurging and spoiling ourselves and loved ones.

Yes, there is a plan. I call it my 10-step financial freedom roadmap. Elsewhere on this site you will also find plenty of additional resources to help you on your investment journey. But the plan might get shredded any day, as my mind remains occupied with the urgency of living with purpose - today. What do you choose when you know for sure you have less than three years left?

For now I still live with the privilege of trying to figure out how to balance living in the now with thinking ahead and designing a future of financial freedom. Because, after I left the cemetery that day, I double-checked the cemetery map and found: it has several wells and last month in Koyasan, I was looking in the wrong one.