As I've aged (and grown a bit in the process) I've become less and less needful of 'stuff'. Cycling and eating out are pretty much the only places I spend discretionary income. Well, there is always something going on with the house to put money (and effort) into, and I don't consider money going towards kids discretionary. It's perhaps a rationalization, but I validate what I spend on cycling with the fact that it has been a huge boon to my mental (and of course physical) health. I spent much of my life fighting depression, and went through some real lows. I messed up my life pretty bad, throwing away a lot of what I had built (career, possessions,$), by the way I handled a horrid marriage. I essentially tried to run away and hide from it all. It took many years to climb out of the dark fog of depression and get back moving in a positive direction. I was someone who had to 'bounce off the bottom'. It wasn't until I understood that I wasn't going to kill myself that I really started climbing because, well, there was just no other choice. One of the keys for me was leaning towards a Buddhist approach. I don't consider myself a Buddhist, I just lean towards the teachings. The temples I've tried attending are too 'religious' for me. They are 'Westernized' for want of a better word. There is a Thai temple close which is not, but the language barriers are extreme. Anyway, once I accepted how things were, what had happened, and who I was, I was able to slowly develop a positive approach. As I did so, I started riding, and cycling pulled me in. Cycling has helped take me from a recovering depressive to a truly happy guy. I believe lot of it is that I need a oodles of exercise to keep the chemicals in my brain balanced. And I need to be racing to put in the level of training I feel I need to stay healthy.
I'm 100% in agreement with Chasm. On those long solo rides, I just "am".
Having taken the route I've briefly described, I find myself in a position where I'm slowly rebuilding retirement funds, but don't have enough time to really build them up sufficient to 'retire'. I am good at what I do, career wise, but of course find that less valued by the corporate world as I age. Seems like only yesterday that I was the 'wonder kid'. My job is definitely ending on June 1. The company I work for (owns several grocery chains) has been gradually failing, selling off chains, consolidating, etc. My function was consolidated into one in Boise. Everyone else in the department has been gone since last September, but they paid me retention bonuses to get me to keep a job I wasn't planning on leaving. Gotta love stuff like that. I've been looking around, but my default scenario is to return to consulting, with the company I was part of before the current gig. In fact, I consulted for this grocery chain for years until they finally said I needed to either go away or come on board as an employee. So I 'came on board' just in time to have the department moved. Gotta love that stuff too. But this job has been great from a quality of life standpoint. I can commute to work, the demands aren't great, etc. Going back to being pimped out by the consulting firm will likely mean ups and downs income wise, as when not on assignment you are "on-the-bench" and unpaid. Having spent most of my career in small businesses I helped start, the over-arching plan is to fill in the bench time with a business venture, and have that business to support a "semi-retirement".
Probably 'TMI', but it's just my nature to lay it all out there...