Dispatch / On 10 Weeks In One Place

As of today, I have been within the boundaries of the city of Cleveland for ten weeks; the longest period spent in one place since I graduated from University in 2016. Despite that sounding like a ghastly confession (after all, I said I was going to change how I travel not stop traveling altogether), it was, in fact, a conscious decision that has wound up to be fantastic…in its own distinct way.

When I returned from India at the end of December, I knew that things were going to have to change for the upcoming 9-12 months, particularly if I was truly committed to this being the year that I finally obtain my US citizenship. That process alone requires me to spend a large majority of my time in Cleveland and symbolizes a level of “getting my shit together” that energizes me and spills into other parts of my life (such as clearing out my storage unit after two years, creating my perfect morning routine, and acting on long-term goals and projects).

Surprisingly, these ten weeks have whooshed by so quickly yet in an entirely different way to what I have been accustomed to over the past few years. The most drastic change has been the daily pace, which makes sense when you abolish weekly movements by overnight transportation from the equation. Last night I was listening to a podcast in which the guest spoke about her first few months as a digital nomad and how she was “shocked to learn that it isn’t like being on vacation.” Luckily, I have been consistent with my morning meditation; otherwise, I would have thrown my phone across the room in an exasperated fit. She went on to describe her surprise that her days weren’t easily separated into 8-hrs of work, 8-hrs of play, 8-hrs of sleep and that her routines and ability to stay healthy fell to the wayside within a couple of weeks. Duh. I quickly stopped listening to that episode. 

I have written previously about dealing with travel exhaustion; however, what the past couple of months have demonstrated more clearly is the inevitable short-term mindset you have when you are living everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Particularly when you are traveling like I do (budget, spur of the moment, solo), every day your mind is preoccupied with basic survival questions — Where am I sleeping tonight? What am I going to eat in an hour? When was the last time I checked my belongings are still here? Did I book tomorrow’s bus? You get the point.

Don’t get me wrong; I love this style of living. To me, there is nothing more important than being able to cultivate the ability to be completely present in the current moment and in awe of the simple pleasures surrounding you.

But, it doesn’t bode well when you want to change deeply ingrained habits or start a new business or create quality things consistently. I tried with all my might to do all these things while also traveling full-time and working my regular job and it is nigh on impossible. Personally, it was the lack of brainpower I had available to dedicate to creating and writing that I couldn’t deal with and that I now cherish significantly.

Apart from having the time and space to create my own slightly psycho morning routine and deal with other health & wellness related matters, one of the best parts of being in one place is the fact that I can make plans outside of a 72-hour window. There is a talk I want to hear next month? Great! I will get the tickets! Oh, my friend’s birthday get-together is next week? I can be there! I can now utilize the facebook events tab to my heart’s desire! My relationships are one of the most important things to me and being able to water them regularly and tend to them in-person is sublime.

Speaking of deep friendships, last week I met up for coffee with a friend who was in town from LA. A couple of years ago he and his girlfriend (very impressively) walked the PCT Trail which takes about five months…OF JUST WALKING. It is a hell of an accomplishment and a hell of a long time. Although, as he pointed out, not long enough that people should still be jesting with him and asking “can’t you just/wouldn’t you rather walk to {insert place}” as apparently they still regularly do. It isn’t just that he doesn’t think it is funny anymore; it is also bothersome to him that it is clearly still the main thing that people focus on when they speak with and think of him. On his side, the constant reminder makes him feel bad that he isn’t occupying every moment of his life currently doing that thing he loves.

From the deepest depths of my soul, I understand how he feels. I too used to believe that if you weren’t doing something you loved all the time, or every day that there was something wrong or that you were a phony – as if what you had already done could be taken away from you by a change in your mindset or a development in your being. (It can’t.) You see, we aren’t all just one thing, which makes it too god damn restricting to decide upon one way of living life and then never transition it or overhaul it or even just consider something a little different.

In other words, if our overall purpose is to be the best version of ourselves that we can be, then we have to recognize that our path is going to be full of twists and turns, a few sprints, and the occasional necessary rest-stop.

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