No matter where I go in the world, I always know that sanity is just a plane flight away.
I tell people that I meet that I do not really have a “home” and that I move countries every 2-3 months. While this is true, if you look at my driver’s license it will list an address in Michigan. There I have a room full of winter clothes, memories of my childhood and random nicknacks I never got around to throwing away. Even I am not minimalist (or, indeed, eccentric) enough to get rid of all this.
Even more importantly, this permanent address of mine is close to all of my best friends growing up. Years on the road has taught me that having a rock of stability like this, is one of the most valuable things in the world.
Why a Rock?
Generally speaking, it is a bad idea to make your own capacity for happiness dependent upon extrinsic things. If you need money, success or beauty in order to feel happy then you will forever be a slave to the world around you.
Yet, not even the most determined people with the most Zen-like mental fortitude could possible go through life without experiencing some kind of emotional swings. The first line of defense against bad things happening should always be to overcome them yourself… but sometimes it is good to have something external you can call upon to facilitate the process.
Every so often, being on the road can become somewhat oppressive. I often do not speak my native English for months on end while living out of a carry-on suitcase in (often) small apartments. Though I have made plenty of friends in foreign lands, there is always something of a language/culture challenge. I would not call it a barrier, because it is always overcome with enough perseverance, but it lacks the effortless nature of hanging out with my best childhood friends.
So, every so often I fly back to the USA and indulge in their company. Despite that we are years out of college now, my best high school friends and I still keep up with each others’ life and even meet up once or twice a year. It is, quite simply, a trip back to a simpler time.
Doing this serves, for me, a very important purpose: it reminds me who I am and where I came from. Speaking about philosophy and religion with my mom over dinner reminds me of what is important to me in life. Entering into the effortless dance with my friends of joking with each other reminds me not to take life too seriously.
Sanity is Not Being Alone
The most relevant thing that always strikes me in this process is that there are other people who think how I do, who have similar goals and values. It is surprisingly easy to forget this on the road. Even though I pride myself on seeing the similarities with other people and cultures and with being able to get along with them, to return “home” is to be reminded that I am not alone in facing the world.
Do you have a rock, something that provides stability for you when you need it? What is it, and why? Let me know below!