Reflections in old age

Recently my wife and I went to see Living starring Bill Nighy.  Set in 1953 the film resonated with me as I returned to the UK (where I was born in 1944) in 1957 and many of the scenes brought back long submerged memories.  Another reason the film resonated is that I am now 78 and the film is about a senior public servant who is near retirement who is suddenly told he has a fatal cancer and only six months to live.  The question the film asks is What makes for a happy life?

Then this This recent article in the Australian  (17/4/23)Can we think our way to the perfect life? by Elli Halliwell appeared asking a similar question.

So here is my two cents worth.

First of all, when people now ask how I am, I reply “Tom Cruise, Maverick”.  I answer their bemusement with this anecdote:

“The best film of 2022 is Top Gun Maverick grossing $US 1.2 billion, $400m more than its nearest rival.

One of the great scenes is when Tom Cruise is told he is going to be running the Top Gun school much to the displeasure of his new commanding officer.

 “The future is coming, it’s drones  – and you’re not in it,” says Ed Harris’s Rear Admiral Cain. “Your kind is heading for extinction.”

“Maybe so, sir,” says Tom, “But not today.”

This sums up my current philosophy perfectly.

Firstly I am very fortunate in that I am still with my first wife.  One of my former accountants told I had not made any of three wealth destroying decisions that many of his clients and taken.  I had not bought a boat (the average time a boat spends off its moorings in Sydney harbour is seven days/year.  I had not bought a holiday home (most people over capitalise) and I was not divorced.

Vivienne has been a terrific mother to our two daughters and we are now enjoying five grandchildren.

Secondly, I achieved the three financial objectives I set myself in when I was 40.  We would own our own home (in Mosman, with views of the bridge and opera house); we would be totally debt free and we own an investment portfolio generating a very healthy income.  In 1984 the goal was $250,000 per year tax free and indexed to inflation.

Trust me financial security is very important when you become old.

I found the comments section to Ellie Halliwell’s article very interesting with the majority critical of the concept of manifestation.  The comment attributed to Greg Reid did resonate:

A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.

When I am asked what makes for a happy life I reply as follows:

You have two duties:

Keep the human race going.

Find a partner, get married and have at least two children.  Only then will you start to become an adult.

“If you really want to find a partner, you’ve got to get on the apps or join the social groups or whatever works for you, but sitting in your flat wanting and expecting Prince Charming is going to knock on your door, you’re going to be waiting a very long time.”

Leave the world in better place than you found it.

I am particularly proud of two things: getting Daylight Saving extended from 5 to 6 months and getting the Capital Gains Tax rate cut in half to promote an entrepreneurial culture in Australia.

This article first appeared on LinkedIn on 21 April 2023




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