After leaving the governor’s office and returning to his farm, Sanford said he spent time building a bridge, a cabin and barn with his four sons. He showed off a bruised fingernail, which he said was caused by a falling plank of wood.

“In the wake of so much destruction, I wanted to construct,” he said in the interview.

Sanford’s longtime friend Tom Davis, his former chief of staff, said that Sanford’s time in near-isolation was “Thoreauvian,” comparing the former governor’s days on the farm to the writer Henry David Thoreau’s psychologically therapeutic years living near Walden Pond in Massachusetts in the 1850s.

Sanford seems to agree.

“I said to a buddy, ‘You know, I’m becoming a Buddhist Christian,’ which is sort of a weird way of putting it, but you know Buddhism focuses on the moment,” Sanford said. “I think that … Western society achievers, whatever your walk of life, are always focused on the next step.”