Montreal

My recent trip to Quebec was a gift to my ever-expanding perspective on the duality between fully participating in the opportunities that come from travel, and also fully looking forward to returning home. For me, nowadays, it is both. 
I used to travel and search for the next experience to allow me to feel more cultured or more relevant. The next city to navigate and negotiate and build confidence in my ability to face any world, no matter how foreign. I would seek out people to connect with, but many times it was more about proving to myself my own ability to intrigue others, to be interesting enough to capture the attention of exotic strangers, than it was about enjoying the conversation. 
Traveling used to be my life. I defined myself through that lens. I was in constant motion. Without any sustained sense of normalcy, I looked to my nomad-ness as my identity. And that was fun and exhilarating and fine, for a time. But then I began to notice a craving for stillness. For the kind of significance that is not brought by prestige but by being truly known by a small number of people. Being loved and seen so clearly, so simply - and the deep soul-level recognition it brings - is where the gold is, but for me it required a shift in how I measured my success. I abandoned the most robust identity I had: the intrepid voyager. It was disconcerting, but it was worth it. Now, having built a life that is decidedly less "impressive" by my own standards of the past, my life is more full than ever. This was a wonderful discovery. I found that what truly brought grace and peace and connection was already here the entire time. I didn't need Barcelona or Tokyo or Bali.

I still love wandering a foreign country at dusk, ducking into this cafe to journal or that speakeasy to giggle over tequila neat, walking through markets bright-eyed and open to the unknown, and the relationship deepening that happens away from the patterning of home...and I now enjoy these things in the here and now, then I joyfully return. As my fellow Nashvillian Jedidiah Jenkins wrote with potent brilliance: "there is a time for the discovery that every new place is someone else's routine."