Rollerblade Every Day for the Rest of Your Life


Hey, peeps. Speaking of peeps, if you like those weird marshmallow sugar bird things that appear around this time year, we can never be friends. Well, Joanna just told me that she likes them so I guess I have to retract that statement. But seriously? Peeps?

Joanna and I are playing catch up on a few things this week that we’ve been meaning to do for months. Oil change, DMV registration, inbox zero, replacing a dead Vespa battery, and taking our final rock climbing class. I’m a to-do list kinda guy, so a week like this one makes me really happy.

Since we’re high on productivity but low on time, I thought I’d post a video I found super interesting. It’s 15 minutes long, but if you’ve got the time, it’s worth every minute.

If you don’t have the time, here’s the tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) summary: there’s a guy nicknamed “Slomo” who rollerblades up and down Pacific Beach every day. A lot of people assume he’s homeless or a panhandler or just straight up fried. The truth is, Slomo is a retired neurologist/psychiatrist. For the better part of his life, he was caught in the rat race at a job he hated with lots of material possessions that didn’t make him happy. So one day, after a strange medical condition had finally inhibited his ability to do his medical job well, he said screw it. And so now he rollerblades. Every day. Because he wants to.

The cynical way to look at this is that it takes earning tons of money doing something you hate in order to do what you want later. The way I’m choosing to look at his story is figuring out what happiness looks like now, what it’ll require to make it happen, and then doing what it takes to make it a reality within the next 5-10 years. Wishful thinking? Maybe. Naive? No way. Success isn’t a “safe” corporate-ladder position. Success isn’t a six-figure salary. Had Slomo realized that his “success” was living off $30,000-$50,000/year to pay for rent, food, and a few pairs of rollerblades each year, I’m sure he’d have gladly hung up his lab coat a lot sooner.

This topic of financial independence and the pursuit of happiness has been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve been reading The $100 Startup and The 4-Hour Workweek off and on for the last two months. Check out the summaries on the links. I’m skeptical of quite a bit of the advice and promised outcomes, but I think their main premise is sound: you should spend most of your life doing the things you love to do. Everyone can be Slomo. But few will be brave enough.

What’s your “Slomo” dream? What’s holding you back (besides money) from living it? What would be your “Hey, that guy looks like a homeless dude on rollerblades!” nickname be?

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  • Reply Gin April 3, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Johnny…have you discovered Pat Flynn yet? You have to check out his blog and website…. I could so see you guys developing something like he has only pertaining to finance, budgets….or even traveling! (Utah is high on my bucket list after seeing the gorgeous scenery you guys share. I also love that you say good things about my Boston :-). I am just starting the 4 hour workweek…I’m going to have to look into the $1oo startup. Love what you and Joanna are doing!

    • Reply Johnny April 7, 2014 at 12:37 am

      Thanks for your comment, Gin! I’ve stumbled on his site a few times, but having cranked through most of The $100 Startup this weekend, I’ll definitely give it a closer look this week. Sounds right up our alley.

      And you should definitely start planning your trip out here! We’ve got another trip in the works to Arches sometime this month to help salivate your traveling urges a little more to our red rock paradise.

  • Reply Kasey @ Debt Perception April 3, 2014 at 9:08 am

    That was great! Thanks for sharing! I’m not sure what my “Slomo” dream would be, I’m still trying to discover that but my student loan debt is definitely holding me back. I’ve got to do whatever I can to earn money to throw at Sallie Mae to pay the beast off. I can probably be like Slomo in another 20 years.

    • Reply Johnny April 7, 2014 at 12:40 am

      Sally will grow up knowing that Sallie is her archenemy. And that her name is spelled the right way. Figure out that Slomo dream so you can think about how you’re getting closer to it every time you slap Sallie with another wad of cash.

  • Reply coolfamilylife April 3, 2014 at 10:16 am

    At first I was thinking this man does have a mental illness but I think instead what he had was complete burnout. I was wondering why he couldn’t volunteer or work part time or something but maybe he just had to completely remove himself. I am glad he is so happy. I see there are so many young people on pf blogs trying to save up for the future or pay off student loans. I am in my forties now and I will say make your twenties count. There is so much freedom to live with roommates and to have a very low grocery bill and not buy a car unless you really have to. Have people over or go camping with a few other couples every weekend in the summer at gorgeous parks and split the very minimal cost. Save hard and enjoy life. The more simply you live, the more you can save/pay off debt and the more choices you have to escape the rat race when you want to!

    • Reply Johnny April 7, 2014 at 12:43 am

      Amen! Great advice. Sometimes Joanna and I need a reminder to take advantage of being young and (mostly) free to get out and take advantage of the ability to do things relatively easily and cheaply.

  • Reply Danny C. April 3, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    This blew my mind. I’ve seen him several times in person when we go to San Diego and he was just something to laugh about because he really does skate super slow and tosses people imaginary “blessings”. Amazing back story. Loved every minute.

    • Reply Johnny April 7, 2014 at 12:43 am

      So rad. I’d love to catch a Slomo blessing.

  • Reply Caitlin F. April 3, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    I live in PB and see Slomo nearly every time I run on the boardwalk. He always has the biggest smile. It’s contagious. Anyone from here knows and respects him tremendously. I’m glad his story is being heard and hopefully people are taking notes. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Johnny April 7, 2014 at 12:44 am

      That’s awesome! We’ll have to make a trip down there the next time we’re in Southern CA.

  • Reply Chad April 3, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    I’ve been reading both of those books as well. It definitely has been motivating me to do what really makes me happy. Yesterday I had one of those moments, sitting at work that I dislike, day dreaming about what I could really be doing… Maybe I should go get some roller blades… ha ha.

    • Reply Johnny April 7, 2014 at 12:47 am

      Hah. Maybe that’s the trick. Buy the rollerblades first and then realize you can never go back to your boring desk job. And also, you can’t return the rollerblades at that point so you’re sorta forced into making the Slomo dream happen.

  • Reply dude April 3, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I shared this story/video a few days back on MMM, and totally agree — I find it incredibly inspirational. It doesn’t matter what the “what” is for you, whether it be rollerblading or fishing, it only matters that it’s the thing you enjoy and want to do most for the rest of your life. I’d be psyched to be hanging out at the rock climbing crag until I’m in my 80’s, with a giant, shit-eating grin on my face all the time, living a low-key lifestyle on passive income sources, and having passersby note, “there goes the dude . . .”

    • Reply Johnny April 7, 2014 at 12:49 am

      Right on. Your dream sounds a lot like the one Joanna and I want right now. We’re totally wrapped up in rock climbing and count down the hours until we’re back at the gym (but soon out on the rock with the weather finally warming up). And that’s enough of a “what” right now to figure out what we need to do to make that a reality every day as soon as possible.

  • Reply Miranda April 3, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    My ‘Slomo” dream would probably be the whole “sell everything I own and backpack the world with my husband’ thing. Huge lack of certainty/ the fact that I thrive on structure and routine are what’s holding me/us back. But if I ever did do it, my nickname would be Carmen Sandiego and my husband’s would be Ron Burgundy.

    I’ve read about 1/4 of ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’ and so far, I’m skeptical. By the by, I would happily be the first member to sign up for the OFB book club if there ever was one. Like you guys need more to add to your to=do list….

    • Reply Johnny April 7, 2014 at 12:52 am

      Haha. If you started a Kickstarter proposing your name changes and idea, you’d probably get a decent response. I’d contribute.

      Totally hear you on the 4HWW skepticism. Joanna and I felt totally inspired reading some chapters followed by rolling our eyes the next. And we would love to share what we’re reading and informally invite others to follow along. It’d be fun.

  • Reply Erin @ Gen Y Finances April 3, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    I used to love rollerblading! Slomo is a smart dude…

    I’m kinda living my Slomo dream. I still have to work for a living, but I spend my days writing, reading, and hanging out with my husband. I also travel several times a year. What else could I ask for? 🙂

    • Reply Johnny April 7, 2014 at 12:54 am

      That’s awesome! I think sometimes the hardest part is realizing that many of us have already got things pretty good. While there are still other things lacking in my current life to fully achieve Slomo zen, I certainly can’t and shouldn’t complain about much.

  • Reply Linda April 5, 2014 at 3:05 am

    I really didn’t enjoy reading the 4 hour week – only got a few chapters in and then I stopped. I guess how it started out – he suggested that if you are employed, that you organise to work from home, automate your job as much as possible, and then get away with getting your job done with as little effort as possible.

    It was just a bit… icky…. completely my own opinion, I’m sure there’s lots of good advice in there. Especially if you are motivated enough to start your own business, then of course do as much as you can with as little effort as possible.

    Just not for me 😉

    I have no idea what my Slomo dream is… we are saving as much as possible, planning to do a very early retirement at the age of 40, and then I want to do volunteering work, preferably something very hands-on. After a decade working in IT, I’m really tired of computers and software.

    I love mountain biking, so maybe I’d travel the world with my trusty steel steed, seeking out the best trails…? Yeah that sounds pretty awesome 🙂

    • Reply Johnny April 7, 2014 at 12:58 am

      Totally agree with you on the full-time lifehacking he proposes in 4HWW. I know he says it’s possible, but it sounded mostly impractical to us. But we loved thinking about how we would do things if we started our own business to automate things as much as possible.

      I’ve never really been mountain biking, but just being able to tell my friends I’m going out with my “trusty steel steed” is reason alone to start doing it. 🙂 That’s an awesome Slomo, and an even awesomer action plan of making it happen by 40.

  • Reply Melanie April 6, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    This makes me happy because I feel like I recently made a decision in my life towards more intrinsic happiness. I’ve been living in PA for almost three years and had been missing home (Massachusetts) more and more. Last week I asked my boss about relocating back and within days, got approval. I will be moving home to friends and family in September. I’ll get to spend time again with my mom, family friends, attend BBQs-all the little stuff which makes life. I’ll also go from working in an office to being homebased. I hope I can take advantage of this opportunity to do my job well, but also make some or my work day “more slowmo like” aka do what I want to do/what makes me happy. Petting the cat? Taking a walk outside? Squeezing in some reading? Meditating? Cooking? The possibilities are endless! 🙂

    • Reply Johnny April 7, 2014 at 1:02 am

      Wow! Congrats! That’s so awesome. Way to take the initiative and ask your boss. I’m sure you’ll be counting down the days to September and your new life. Congrats again on making a huge step toward Slomo-dom.

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