How to Retire Early

Retiring early is a journey not an event. There are complicated material, psychological and spiritual aspects. There is a \”going to\” and a \”going away from.\” To successfully retire early, you must address all aspects, not just the money. Money is actually the easiest part.

I have been exploring various aspects of: I have a mission I want to accomplish which I need to quit my day job to get the time. I have enough money to support myself at a middle class level for life. I am quitting a very secure six figure engineering job where I am skilled and respected.

I have for my entire career thought that I would quit as soon as I got the money. Now, at the age of 59, I have the money. But I am the child of a man who never quit. He had a heart attack at the age of 76, was alive in the hospital calling clients and working, and then coded out while in the hospital. I am the child of a mother who retired at 55 and enjoyed the life provided by her husband. That is a conflict between 2 very different personalities. I am struggling on the inside with my early cultural editing.

I work with people who have mostly worked for the same company for their careers. My boss has been there 42 years! I am a person who has been laid off several times; and I even took a 4 year leave from my career to live in a monastery. Upon leaving the monastery, I had to work at 3 small jobs for a year before I got a job back in engineering. My view of my life is that it can be re-started after a discontinuity. Quitting my job now and thinking I can have a successful phase 3 of my life is thinking beyond that of the people around me. The people around me don\’t understand. They logically think that nothing could be better than slouching around the company collecting the huge salary. Taking it easy is their choice; not daring to try something completely new.

Once I took my dog out of the race at work, and became extremely good at what I do, I also became extremely bored as well as realizing how largely useless and administrative my job is. Actually personal growth is important enough to me that I\’m willing to quit a lucrative salary in order to find something new.

And yes, there are personnel issues at work which I don\’t like dealing with.

I am going to something. I have for 33 years been doing daily spiritual studies. I have a collection of books written by wise people. Last June, nearly a year ago, I had an ah-ha moment. I realized what I could do with my 4 years in a contemplative monastery plus all these years of spiritual studies. I immediately started working on it and have continued daily to work on it. I also know that I live in the internet age. No one can stop me from creating a web page, an app and publishing a book. Many other people have been successful at those tasks. I can learn how and have fun learning.

For now, my quit date is not until September. So I struggle at work with less and less interest in the pettiness.

More on this journey as I go along.

Ode to Joy

This is a little story of synchronicity, of paying attention to the Universe, of cooperative components coming together. And most of all, appreciating the spiritual entities who can help us accomplish meaningful lives.

I noticed yesterday how a respected 104 year old scientist, David Goodall, had died peacefully listening to \”Ode to Joy\”. I wondered what was so important about that music, by Beethoven, that this highly intelligent and deep person would chose to die to it. But I didn\’t pursue it at that moment.

Then today, I was on page 201 of Jordan Peterson\’s book \”12 Rules for Life\” where it says, \”What is meaningful by contrast is the organization of what would otherwise be expedient into a symphony of Being. Meaning is what is put forth more powerfully that mere words can express by Beethoven\’s \”Ode to Joy,\” a triumphant bringing forth from the void of pattern after pattern upon beautiful pattern, every instrument playing its part, disciplined voices layered on top of that, spanning the entire breadth of human emotion from despair to exhilaration.\”  I deeply want to feel my life as a symphony of Being.

Suddenly, I had to pull out my phone and ask it to play \”Ode to Joy.\” Well, yes I know this song. But as I listened to it in the context of the 104 year old scientist plus \”symphony of Being,\” I realized my life being lived for the Universe and my gift to the Universe. I felt the truth of the emotion. I felt the symphony of my life and all its ups and downs as a wonderful gift given and gift received.

I wouldn\’t have felt that depth of my life\’s worth if I hadn\’t been paying attention to the clues, the little trail of bread crumbs left by my higher consciousness, my soul or spirit. Feeling high on life is wonderful and seldom felt by me.

I wouldn\’t mind dying to this magnificent truth either.

Resignation Stories

I am planning on resigning my job in September and moving on to phase 3 of my life. But quitting a good corporate job, even if you have the money, is a surprising challenge. That is giving up a secure salary in favor of spending your savings and doing something different defies belief systems and causes angst.

This angst has to be worked through in order to be happy. So my resignation is an emotional process. I have to face all my conditioning and resentments in order to obtain a free and happy soul.

So, 3 stories have become important ways of framing what I am going through.

First was Plato\’s Cave. It is a story about people sitting in chairs in a cave. They are facing the rock wall and watching shadows on the wall. Watching these shadows is their reality. Then one day, one of them stands ups and look around and sees the sun shining through the mouth of the cave. There are other people walking past the cave and these other form the shadows on the wall of the cave which are watched by the people in the chairs. My take on this: I have stood up and seen the sun, but still too afraid to walk out of the cave. The cave is the only reality I have known. Can I make it if I leave the cave?

Second is about training flies. If you put some flies in a jar  with a top, and then some time later remove the top, the flies will not leave the jar. They just won\’t. My take on this: As a corporate employee, I have a hard time leaving my corporate jar. The way to freedom is there for me, but I still just look at it.

Third is about catching monkeys. It is said that the way to catch a monkey is to get a large jar with a mouth just large enough for the monkey\’s hand. Put rocks in the jar to make it heavy. Scatter treats around and in the jar. The monkey will come for the treats and eventually reach into the jar to get those treats. But the monkey can\’t get its hand out of the jar with the treats balled up in it. So you have caught the monkey. My take on this: The treats are the corporate safety and salary. My hand has long been in the jar. To get out of the jar, I have to open my hand, let go of the corporate salary. There are other sources of treats but first, I have to let go.

So these stories illustrate and help me understand the angst I experience in my transition from corporate slave to free creative entrepreneur. I don\’t even need to make money as entrepreneur, just go be one, leaving aside the corporation. The white middle class cultural template of \”go to college and get a good corporate job and eventually retire\” is the conditioning I have been living. But now, I want to be free. I think I can be \”more\” by being free.

Understand this is an emotional journey not a logical one. Logically, I am fine. Emotionally, I am breaking my conditioning and parts of my brain don\’t agree. The tension is the emotion. Most of us don\’t like being emotional. But what is human life without emotion? Beliefs about emotion itself are a form of conditioning.

The emotional journey will continue.

The 5th Lap

This is a race report about the Trailracingovertexas race Wildflower 50k in Bastrop State park, May 5, 2018.

But what is the 5th lap? It is the lap you can\’t believe you did and what you get from that.

But first, overall, a very successful trip. This weekend was my first camping trip with my Honda Odessy. Here is a picture of the back with my cot installed:

This worked pretty well. Not perfect. Improvements are needed, but for a first try at camping, it was a huge success. I also say that this van is very comfortable for long drives.

Next was volunteering at packet pickup. I met a lady who was 67. For her 65th birthday, she walked 900 miles of the Appalachian trail by herself. Wait. What? You did that? I was impressed. I didn\’t know 65 year olds could do that by themselves.

The following day was race day. How nice to be right in the park! The weather was clear and a little cool, to start at least. Although there were many runners, and the race started immediately uphill on single track, the whole conga line thing didn\’t bother me. It was dark so I wore my head light. I made it through the darkness without tripping!

Once we could see, it was a beautiful park with lots of green. Not that much shade as forest fires took out most of the trees.

The big challenge for me was that this was a trail race in hilly country. I live in a city that is totally flat, so the ups and down plus the rocks was all new to me. The audacity of me thinking I could do 50k on a trail! So I spent the first 2 of 5 laps thinking I would quit. It was going to be hot after all, and surely my quads would collapse on me. Somewhere during lap 2, I thought, \”this is what it means to be fully alive.\”  During lap 3, I knew I would do lap 4. No heat related illness was felt which means I took enough electrolytes and drank enough fluids. Win! During lap 4, I knew I would do lap 5. What changed about my mental condition? Was this my doing or the work of my higher consciousness? Despite all those quitter thoughts, it was very easy for me to get back out on the trail for the final lap.

Having some mental gift to get back out and finish a race is a transcendence. It is also wealth and abundance beyond money. A rich experience, especially if it brings meaning to your life or knowledge of what you are made of, is worth more than money in the bank. It is abundance already in your possession. I mention my learning because I am still struggling with the idea of early retirement. Logically, the money is in the bank; but breaking my father\’s rules and spending instead of saving is still difficult mentally and emotionally. Going away from my lucrative but boring day job to pursue interests which don\’t pay that well seems to scare me. Living my life at a different vibrational order of being is new. These are the gifts of meaning and self esteem gained by going out on the 5th lap.

Well, I did finish the race: