We had a special visitor at our house today. Our readers may remember when we introduced Buck earlier this year. He and I had a lengthy conversation about priorities and concerns about shelter, food, and friendships. It has been months since we have seen him and I had wondered where he had been since our last visit.
I was in the office catching up on work and the blog when I heard Dianne scream. I immediately asked, “What’s wrong?” and ran into the living room. Our cat, Hershey, had seemed interested in something stirring outside and
Dianne decided to find out what was capturing his attention.
That is when the shout occurred. She was staring straight at Buck standing outside our living room door!
Buck was only a few feet from the door, spending a considerable amount of time staring at us as if he had something to say. I thought it would be a great opportunity to see what’s new with him and catch up on all the things going on in our lives.
It is becoming more difficult for wildlife walk through our yard
First, I need to mention a quick back-story on our property and house in Sedona. We have a uniquely shaped property on a third of an acre, with six neighbors bordering our land. It is actually a quiet and private setting due to all the native trees and bushes.
This summer our neighbor to the north built a fence that covered the longest opening of our lot. We thought that this would cut down on all the animal sightings we enjoy viewing. Thankfully, this has not been the case. We are surprised that we still have many creatures passing through our yard!
Buck had a lot to say, and I gave him some updates on our priorities.
I mentioned earlier last week that we have some major milestones coming up in the next four months. I thought it would be great to hear what Buck has been doing since our last conversation and tell him about the exciting developments with us.
My conversation with Buck
Bryan: Hey Buck! Long time no see. Where have you been?
Buck: I met a nice doe this summer and we were hanging out in the high country. It is a lot cooler up there, and with all the rain this year, we had plenty of delicious plants to eat.
Bryan: Why are you by yourself? Where is the new lady in your life?
Buck: I thought the relationship might work out, but it didn’t. I really wanted to settle down, but she kept talking to me about having kids. I told her I already had one last year and did not plan on any more. We were just too far apart in our relationship—we didn’t have the same goals.
Bryan: I am sorry to hear about that, Buck. It sounded like she wanted you to commit to something more than you were comfortable with. Hey by the way, what brings you to our backyard?
Buck: It’s beginning to freeze up at the higher elevation and it snowed last week. I thought I would come back to your house and munch on your Pyracantha, because you have all these nice berries blooming. It looks like the javelinas already ate the lower berries on this bush… I’ll go ahead and snack on these tasty ones up high.
How about you, Bryan? You seemed “hyper-focused” on controlling your destiny when we talked last. How is that working out for you?
Bryan: Thanks for asking. We have had many things happening in our lives this summer. Our daughter was married in Colorado in September and Dianne played cello at the ceremony. It was beautiful. Speaking of music, Dianne performed at several gigs locally and is now the principal cellist for the symphony. She is also lining up wedding gigs for next year.
I took three work-related trips, which kept me from going too crazy and beating my head against the wall, with working from home and so little human interaction. I returned home last week from spending a week at the Florida coast with my friend Billy. I continue to visit Starbucks at least once a week, which is allowing me to create some great new friendships.
Buck: Sounds like you have been busy. How about all those financial goals and all that retire early stuff you seemed to be so focused on? Any updates?
Bryan: Indeed, we have some exciting news! We are on the verge of being debt free. We are paying off a loan in early December that will leave us with only one to go. We expect the last one will be paid off next March. I am beginning to wonder where my focus will be directed once I am not thinking about paying off debt.
Buck: That sounds like great news and important to you, becoming debt free. For me, I have never been in debt to begin with. For that matter, I have never bought or owned anything. However, I do have my ability to think, find food, and stay away from danger. So I guess that should count for something.
Bryan: I imagine, being a deer it, would be difficult to safeguard your money if you had any. You don’t have a wallet or a house to keep you from losing your stuff. You don’t have a job for that matter, either. It sounds like a simple life to me without the need for money. Are you happy?
Buck: I am happy. It seems to me that you are so focused on the future that you may be forgetting to live the life you have today. Bryan, how do you even know there is a future? I live in the present moment, not worrying about what tomorrow will bring! Enough of this talk, I am heading on to find some other food to eat. Maybe later Hershey could hang out with me. It would be nice to have a present-moment conversation with him.
It’s too bad animals don’t talk
I often wonder what is going through our cat’s mind. He certainly vocalizes to us when he wants attention. Dog lovers know that their dogs can have very expressive faces when they interact with people. I wonder what is going through Buck’s mind? I do suspect he lives totally in the moment, not worrying about the future.
In my latest imaginary conversation with Buck, I reflected on what he did this summer and whether he had plans. It must be simple for Buck: he needs only to stay alive, eat, and procreate. Those are very fundamental items at the very bottom level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We are fortunate that our basic needs are secure. It becomes complicated for humans as we try to control our destiny and search for meaning in life. Mother Nature and the universe sometimes conspire against us—at least it can feel that way. We have to learn how to be OK when things do not go as planned.
For Dianne and me, we have benefited tremendously with the clarity of our top three priorities: debt freedom, financial independence, and leaving our jobs ASAP! Decisions are easier to make when we base those decisions on whether they align with our priorities. We have nearly eliminated the first two items on the list. Leaving our jobs will be an exercise to determine how much “enough” is, weighing the emotional and physical toll our jobs have on us.
Our focus now is on our top priorities: eliminating the last of our debt and leaving our employers. This enables us to keep distractions to a minimum, removing the rest of the clutter and disruptions in our lives that distract us from those objectives. Our continued emphasis on setting goals aligned with our priorities will give us more time in the future to talk with Buck—and others in our own backyard.