Yesterday we drove from the Isle of Skye up to Inverness in Scotland. As I drove away from Skye I was aware of a strange new sensation. Not like an ache in a limb or butterflies in my stomach, it was something softer. It was a feeling like a new cushion that I was resting on. I remember thinking, where’s my typical stress from a long drive? As I write this I’m sitting outside our Airbnb on the Black Isle looking out across the water towards Inverness at rolling foothills and fields, and I can still feel the same cushion.
I’ve been retired since April of 2018. And yesterday is literally the first time I can say I have really noticed a different version of myself. I feel like a sense of peace has finally set in. Perhaps it’s because I just spent 7 days in a remote part of the Isle of Skye looking out at some of the most breathtaking landscape I have ever seen. I had the horizon in front of me, along with sheep and Highland cows grazing nearby in the fields. Even the rocky hills in the distance topped with blankets of green grasses were calming. At times the wind blew rain sideways and the windows of the house were awash in sheets of water, leaving our views blurry and vague. And then a cow would stroll by to its next spot to graze or flop down to digest its breakfast. Sigh.
It’s taken me almost 18 months of being away from everything that was familiar before I retired, to feel a shift. I don’t want to engage anymore in banter with family or past colleagues about my old job, or my previous clients, or my company’s position in the market, or the way it felt to process the day while driving to and fro in traffic. That old dialogue doesn’t fit me anymore. What I want now is to turn the volume down so I can hear the sound of silence at night. Or the tea kettle when it reaches the right temperature for my morning coffee. I want to be able to sit still for long enough that a butterfly could land on my shoe. And then take a long walk where I can see the outdoors across great distances. I thrive when I hear seagulls, water, wind, and even muffled voices. That’s all part of this new cushion I can feel that replaced my old tensions.
Today I can say for sure that all of our efforts to reach financial independence and retire early, were worth it. This first year post-FIRE has been such a gift to me. The reality that we planned and saved enough to stop participating in the noise that I used to live with is a relief. And for sure I have completely stopped worrying about whether “will we have enough.” I have done the math, talked to “the pros,” read the books, and done the planning with Ali. That feels like old news now.
Wow. So this is what “relaxed” feels like. Sitting outside in the morning sun along the Beauly Firth in Scotland today, I feel I’m finally there.