In Praise of Staying Put

When this is posted, I will be leaving on a quick traveling-while-traveling trip to London and Oxford as I live in Lyon, France. I never saw myself as the “kind of person” who would be doing this much running around (rather, flying) because for years I resisted even traveling the 200 miles to my grandparents’ house–or for that matter, the few miles to my schools. Any commute was–and is–too much of a commute (I’ve been known to bitterly stifle complaints about a 3-minute commute).

I reluctantly assume the “homebody” label, sometimes. I like being home. 


Exotic zoo critters. Are they home or not? Sometimes I feel this limbo.

That said, I felt so adrift when I graduated college that I needed to do something–anything–to shake up my perspective and try to figure out what going home means, to figure out what I’m actually looking for.

A month into my most recent “experiment” and I think, by Jove, I’ve got it! Meanwhile, I’m living abroad with a contract that keeps me here through July. I realize that in many ways I’m quite fortunate to have this opportunity, but I’m also aware–every day–that this isn’t mine, I ain’t settled. And as much as I am getting into the routine of this family and this place, there is an ever-looming expiration date on this experience.

At some point, I will have to uproot myself, no matter how firm (or how fragile) those roots may be, when the time comes. Even if I found a way to continue living abroad, I would still be switching apartments or even countries.

For me, living sustainably involves cultivation not only of ideas and personal ethos, but also of physical, tangible things: housing, food production, etc. I love making yogurt here because it means a little bit less packaging getting thrown away (or recycled). I’m also a fan of being able to walk basically everywhere I need to go. However, I am yearning for the day when I can plant a garden that I will not only tend and harvest, but plant again the next year.

As much as my generation rhapsodizes about travel, it’s more and more vital for people to stay in place and cultivate those places. Exploring places unlike your own can be an important exercise in understanding, first-hand, cultural relativity, but traveling continuously, or living a deliberately nomadic life, can sometimes mean shirking human responsibilities, as well.


I’m not saying that everyone needs to own a herd of dairy cattle and be directly tied to daily agricultural duties; I’m also not saying that travel is inherently evil. I’m just saying: home is nice, too. If you (like me, pre-September 2013) felt a tremendous pressure to travel, travel, travel and you don’t want to? Don’t feel bad about it, just make use of your staying put. Relish it.


  1. Good topic. I think that one of the aspects of a more sustainable society that currently escapes us now revolves around outlook and longevity. In the end, I think nature is a long-term thinking system, but we really aren’t—at least not now. Most of us are thinking in packages of months when looking ahead, rather than years or decades. But this kind of short-term view is exactly why sustainability is such a hard sell for so many people. Making lifestyle changes for an outcome that may be decades away is counter to how our culture of sound bites and seasonal collections.

    I think there’s something being said for “staying put” as part of a broader life plan. How many of us buy or build homes that will last us 15-20 years? Since most of us don’t, all too many contractors are not quite as concerned in building a house that will last for 50 and as consumers, we’re not too concerned about paying for one that will.

    There is an inherent link between longevity and quality—and the longer things last, the fewer things we have to make. The trees with stronger roots probably grow taller and live longer. I think nature would probably appreciate more of us having stronger roots that we work to cultivate over time.

    • Emma said:

      Thanks for your comment! I agree with you–in general, I think our attitude does tend to be focused on the present and on short-term goals and problems.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: