As a boy, I dreamt about becoming an archeologist and write a book. It never happened. I still love ancient history though. My father owned a local barber shop annex clothing store and dreamt about one of his two boys becoming his successor. That never happened. He died at 61 and never saw his sons reach their full potential. That memory left a scar inside me.
My final test from elementary school advised my parents to send me to intermediate general secondary education (in Dutch: MAVO-4): “Leon is too young for his age”. Little has changed (sic!). An economics teacher annex school counselor recognised my talents with numbers and took an interest in my follow-up education. Hence, two more years of senior general secondary education (in Dutch: HAVO-5).
During those two years, I noticed a brochure in the school counselor’s office mentioning the Higher School for Economics in Amsterdam, which offered three more years in Business Economics (in Dutch: HEAO-BE). I loved those years in Amsterdam, while travelling up and down from my parents’ home, each day.
Many of my peers opted for an internship at an auditing firm and this seemed like a good idea to me too. My part-time auditing study was a perfect match: working (at least) 40 hours a week, and attending auditing classes during the evening or in the weekends. Eight more years passed by.
Fast-forward in time: I graduated as a Dutch Registered Accountant in 1989 at the age of 29, and assumed my first CFO role in 1999 at the age of 39. My work offered me satisfaction while my private life was a mess. Happiness was far away. Mid 2013, I suffered from a severe burn-out and a subsequent depression. I haven’t worked a single day since. Basically, I retired at the age of 53.
I have always “felt” and “known” that something bad would occur between my 50s and 60s. Hence, my financial planning was built on that hunch. Moreover, I saved much of my money, which allowed me to survive since 2013. In hindsight, my 2013 burn-out was a blessing in disguise, which allowed me to rebalance.
Until a few years ago, I had forgotten about my dream of becoming an archeologist and writing a book. Still, my writing efforts since mid 2014 do suggest a match with my boyhood dreams. I doubt that I will ever write that book. Instead, I might publish a “best of” selection from my 2,000+ blogs.
Before mid 2013, I’ve never been able to enjoy my achievements. I was always busy planning the next one. Things have changed. Now, I enjoy the small moments of every single day as of the moment of waking up: my cappuccinos, the leafs dancing in the wind, the warmth of the sun, the sounds of the wind, and even the rain. I have no more destinations. I just enjoy the journey and see what – and who – this journey will bring to me.
I’ve always thought, felt and believed that life is a destination that you can choose yourself. I’m much less sure now. As a boy, I believed in a destination that I discarded along the way to adulthood. Somehow, that destination returned into my life’s journey, without me even realising it for a long time. I think, feel and believe that a journey and its destination(s) along the way, are more intertwined than we realise.
Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.