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One of the peculiar things about life these days is specialization.

On one hand it makes an awful lot of sense.

Crafting something in an artisanal manner is not the most efficient way to produce things. A factory is. With each person or machine doing specific acts over and over again. Linked together by an ingenious feat of master planning.

And this increased efficiency has created more food, more tools, more medicine, more luxuries, and more wealth.

Penicillin is great. And so are iPads.

I, for one, would certainly rather live now than in the Middle Ages.

On the other hand, the efficiency of modern life means outsourcing.

And I’m not talking about free trade, or the outsourcing of one countries jobs to another.

I’m talking about all of the important facets of life that we as individuals outsource to others.

Take me. I’m a physician. But I am not just a physician. I’m an adult physician. And I’m not just an adult physician I’m an adult internist. And I’m not just an adult internist, I’m an adult internist who specializes in the heart. And I’m not even just an adult internist who specializes in the heart. I’m an adult internist specializes in the hearts electrical system.

Pretty specialized.

So I am in effect one small highly specialized cog in the massive healthcare machine.

And don’t get me wrong I chose this level of specialization because at each fork in my career path I picked the road that was most interesting for me to travel down.

So I selected for myself the most personally interesting niche in all of medicine.

But still, on some level I’m just a cog.

Most days I get in my car and drive to the hospital and see patients and do procedures and then I drive home.

Meanwhile someone else is growing my food for me.

And Someone else is gathering energy for me to burn to drive my car and to heat my house and to cook my food.


Thanks BP.  I needed that.

And someone else is gathering my lumber, and building my furniture, and sewing my clothes.

And someone else is processing my sewage and taking away my garbage.

And Someone else is educating my children.

Until recently other humans were also periodically cleaning my house and weeding my garden.

And the funny thing is that with all of the efficiency, often times on the weekends I and my family would be struck by a sense of ennui.

My daughter would sullenly ask me, “Papa what are we going to do today?”

And we would search together for diversions or entertainments to wile away our hours of free time.

Which is pretty crazy, no?

It all (of course) comes back to what it always comes back to with me; early retirement.

One of the terrific byproducts of pursuing financial independence, is the drive to live more self sufficiently.

This fosters a do-it-yourself mentality.

Even though it is more efficient for me to hire someone else to work in my garden, (professionals can do it faster and better after all) it costs money.

And even though, on some level, I can afford the money, money not spent is money that I now know I can invest in financial independence.

And so I decide to pull my own weeds. And plant my own garden. And rake my own leaves.

And here’s the unexpected bonus.

When I go out to the garden to pull the weeds and plant the plants and pick the vegetables, my kids often come with me.

And while I’m gardening, they are digging in the dirt and picking up worms and potato bugs and playing with the watering can.

We are spending our time together entertaining ourselves, and being inefficient.

Which is more satisfying than efficiency.

After all, our hours are spent together, tending to our own specific world, instead of outsourcing our time to others to entertain (and distract) us.

And while we’re doing that, we’re learning new skills and working with our bodies, and becoming more connected to the world all around us.

All in all, it’s a nice little vacation from being a cog.

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