Yet, about a month in, I began to wonder what the hell I’d found so appealing about travel in the first place. I knew that I wouldn’t miss the parts that so obviously suck—the blaring television sets in the waiting lounges, the TSA pat downs, the screaming baby seated behind me in seat 43 E, or the captain’s announcement that we’re No. 19 for takeoff. What shocked me was just how much less frantic and overextended I felt when I wasn’t constantly preparing for or recovering another long haul from home. Until then, I’d never fully appreciated just how much travel had disrupted my daily routines and prevented me from ever feeling caught up on anything. Knowing exactly where I’d be in a week or three months or 10—without having to refer to my calendar—gave me a tremendous sense of grounding and calm.
I began to realize that my time on the road didn’t just give me exposure to new ideas and exotic cultures, it robbed me of something important—a connection to home. Every day I spent visiting tourist spots or lugging myself to interchangeable conference rooms was one that I was absent from my true life—the one that matters most. When I knew that I’d be here next weekend (and dozens after that), I could commit to local outings, events, and volunteer projects that gave me a stake in my community and connection to people with a shared purpose. Over the course of the year, my place became a part of my identity, an answer to the question, “Who am I?”
Staying put helped me understand that contentment can only come from making the best of what’s around me, rather than constantly seeking the perfect location or set of circumstances.