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Friday, February 1, 2013

FINANCIAL FREEDOM AND THE FREEDOM OF TIME


When I was still going to school I had a simple dream. I just wanted my own space. You see, I am the eldest in a family of six siblings. We grew up in a two-bedroom flat. We actually lived in this flat for more than 20 years.

Imagine this: My parents and my brother, the youngest in the family who was still a baby at the time, in one room and the rest of us in the other room. So, naturally I needed some space of my own. I couldn't complain because that was all my father could afford. So, I kept thinking … where in this world I could get my own space, go to a good school and have the chance to continue my studies overseas?

I really wanted to go to a university in England but I thought that a chance to go to a university in the United States was equally fantastic. Remember that this was in the 1970's. The formula, "study hard, get good grades, go to a good school, get a college degree, get a good job and you are all set to conquer the world" very much applied back then. But more importantly, at the tender age of 13, I had a dream and was ready to put tangible actions in place.

Sure I did well in school, got a place in a boarding school where I actually got my own space. I did well in high school and earned a place to pursue my degree and masters in the United States. But it all started with a simple dream. With the right choices and the right actions, dreams do come true.

I will continue to hope and pray for a lot of things in life because I am a firm believer in the powers of prayers and I am also a firm believer that every single thing that takes place has its reasons. God never works in coincidences. Since we can't explain certain incidences logically and scientifically, the term "coincidence" seems to be the most appropriate response and the best excuse to get ourselves out of the cobweb of helplessness. It is just that our knowledge and ability to understand is confined to our own interpretations.

Things never happen for the fun of it nor do things happen for the sake of it. The intricate network of the if-then-else equation and the possibilities of events are so huge that it is mind-boggling. We are mere pawns of our own decisions and destiny.

Yes, the future is still wide open although I do not expect miracles. We just have to learn to knock on the right door. With sheer perseverance and steadfast courage, the right door will open and there we are "standing in the eyes of the world".

A friend, who is a doctor operating four clinics, once said, "live as long as possible, but remember, live wealthy and healthy. How do you do this? Use the security that you have today to build your freedom of tomorrow. You must always strive for freedom; financial freedom and freedom of time".

As a matter of fact, we continued to keep in touch after our first meeting in 2003 and today, after a little more than two years he has achieved his freedom and I told him that "I am following you every step of the way". He said to me, "You have to decide and make that choice. You see, five years ago I had a life but no style. Now, I am living my life in style … and there is more from where that came from".

The quest for freedom requires tremendous courage, unrelenting perseverance and above all uncompromised sacrifices. Some gave everything they had and all they had left was their honor and dignity intact creating history along the way. As a matter of fact, some gave their life for the sake of freedom. The martyrs of The Battle of Badar gave their heart, soul and mortal life for the quest of freedom. As a reward, God put them among the righteous and placed them among dwellers of Heaven of the highest order for eternity.

There was one particular night, I could not sleep and I decided to turn on the TV. Fortunately, I managed to catch a movie showing in one of the channels, "The Last Samurai" starring Tom Cruise. I have always been a fan of Tom Cruise. Anyway, it was amazing to see how mortal men gave everything they had, including their lives to fight for freedom and to stand for what they believed in. The Samurais fought for the honour of their country and fought to die, while others fought to live. All of these brave men fought in the name of honour and for the quest of freedom.

Metaphorically, to understand the difference between security and freedom, we need to experience the difference between a merry-go-round and a roller-coaster ride. The merry-go-round is safe, secure and to a certain extend sublime. The ride is slow and very much predictable. We go round and round but when the ride stops we always ended up where we started. That's security! We work very hard to earn a living, doing practically the same things day in and day out. At the end of the month, our paycheck comes along. We are afraid to take chances and we afraid to change as if change is an one-eyed monster lurking in the dark waiting to chew us up alive. At the age of 55 or rather 56, our employer lets us go and we will say "so long" to our colleagues and go home. The next morning when we wake up, we will find ourselves right where we started some 35 years ago when we were young looking for our first job … jobless and needing money to survive.

The roller-coaster ride is something else altogether. The ride is bumpy, never smooth and the course is unpredictable. The ride is not for the fainthearted. We need to gather our courage just to be on the ride. It has its ups and downs. But, it also has its thrills, drama and adventure all packed into one. The invigorating experience makes you want to come back and go through it all over again. In the end, you feel rejuvenated and on top of the world. The mind, heart and soul is finally free. There are challenges to face, obstacles to overcome and walls to climb. We need to savor the good times and celebrate each victory no matter how small they are. Come to think of it, these are the spices that make life worth living for.

There was one particular evening and "out of the blue" my wife asked me, "Am I worth fighting for?" She really caught me by surprise but with great composure I answered, "No!" She said, "After more than 17 years of marriage am I not worth anything?" I could see fire is starting to work its way up. But, I know my wife too well. She is not the type to throw her tantrums easily. She is intelligent, very confident of herself, well composed, loving and caring and most of all she is my best friend in my darkest hours. Well, I explained, "You are not worth fighting for. As a matter of fact, nobody is. But, you are worth LIVING for … every passing moment and every beat of the heart."

Well, that's what freedom is all about. It gives us a sense of control over our destiny and above all we do not need to see ourselves from the eyes of others. We do not have to put on a mask. We do not have to be part of a charade. We are who we are and we live the way we want to. We have financial independence and freedom of time. But, to achieve all these, we must learn to handle the bumpy rides, the uncertainties of consequences and the unpredictability that life has to offer. We may fall flat on our face and we may be bruised and battered but the show must go on. But the thrills of victories and the sweetness of freedom made it all worthwhile. Life is a journey and lets enjoy every moment of the ride.

Therefore, in a nutshell, we just have to decide which course to take! Do we want to take the merry-go-round ride and be complacent with the so-called security that we have? Or do we want to explore the roller-coaster ride and be enthralled with the possibilities of "unlimited financial independence and borderless opportunities" that life has to offer. The quest for freedom is never too late regardless of what our present age is. The quest for freedom starts now at this very moment. Do not wait because time waits for no one. Procrastinating certainly won't help but as a matter of fact it could kill us. It could kill our desire, passion and conviction for excellence and throw us into the state of eternal oblivion. We will only lose valuable and precious time with every procrastination. Time will whiz through us. The problem is, we regret our negligence for lost time but never value time that we have. Remember that time is money but money can't buy lost time.

Sometimes when we think we have everything that we wanted or needed, God tests us with something unexpected and most vulnerable. Sometimes it is not a punishment but it is one way to re-evaluate our submission to the Almighty and seek His Permission and Blessings. In times of solitude and solace we will find the truth with His Guidance and Grace.

Living in many ways is much harder than dying. Of course, dying has different set of problems. All I can say right now is hold on to your love to The Almighty so that our soul will continue to live and our heart will continue to believe. God Willing, the love that we have for the Eternal Life of Hereafter will give us the strength to live another day. Hopefully, with every passing moment, will bring us closer to our vision and goals. There is a saying that goes something like, "love will always lead you back to where the heart belongs".

Live life with courage. Do not live life with fear! The final outcome is not for us to decide. Let God Decide what is right for us, for He Knows Best. We as servants will just have to put the right actions in place and the right results will come out of it.

Copyright © 2006 Azman Taher - azmantaher@yahoo.com 

I currently live in Kuantan, the state capital of Pahang in Malaysia. I am married and blessed with three children. Although my background is in the area of Computer Science but right now I am a Human Resources Consultant for an oil palm plantation company in Kuantan, Pahang. I have conducted motivational seminars for schools and corporate clients. Besides reading, writing is also another favorite hobby of mine. My first book will hopefully be published early of 2007.
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