I find myself today flying across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, en route to Denver for ETH Denver followed by LA for the Upfront Summit. I often end up writing blog posts on planes — partially because of the large block of unscheduled time, but I think it’s more than that. I think there is something about being in flight, in transit, in motion that gets me going on a deep personal level.
I just love moving. I love driving, biking, walking, skiing, boating, train-ing, flying — really anything where moving ahead, fast is the primary activity. Does everyone feel this way? I’m not sure. But I really really do. I get antsy sitting still for too long, and I think, staying in one place for too long.
My first year after college, I lived in Aptos, CA (outside of Santa Cruz), and somehow managed to get a job (working construction at the time) in Palo Alto. Every day I’d drive back and forth over Highway 17 through the redwoods of the Santa Cruz mountains. It was an exhausting drive, but one of the most beautiful I know of — I can still smell the Eucalyptus trees going over the hill and the salty fog of the Santa Cruz bay.
For the past dozen years, I have lived in suburban Boston but worked in NYC. Every week I make the 4-hour trip each way, most of the time via Amtrak but sometimes by plane. I love being a suburban dad, and also love being a NYC VC. And I love my mornings and afternoons on the train. Seeing the Connecticut coastline off of the Amtrak is the highlight.
Beyond that (COVID notwithstanding) I am traveling constantly, for conferences, board meetings and other trips. I get excited pretty much every time it’s time to go somewhere new. I love landing in an airport, and getting on a train (if in Europe) or renting a car (if in California) and getting busy exploring. I love the feeling of walking quickly through the city and then hopping a streetcar, train or bike. Feeling the motion, and seeing the place quickly, while in motion. The best.
There are, of course, downsides to all of this motion. When I lived in Aptos and worked in Palo Alto, I ended up crashing with friends in PA a lot, and I never really felt like Aptos was home. Splitting time between Boston and NYC is even harder — I always have the feeling like I’m not in either place enough, and choosing between work and family in that way is always really hard. Going somewhere means not being somewhere else, obviously.
When I say motion, though, it’s not just about travel, but really just about moving. Today I took a bunch of boxes to our storage unit. Simple motion like packing the car, driving a few miles, and loading up & rolling the storage dolly just makes me happy. It’s kind of weird. Living in NYC most of my life (before and after college and before moving to Boston), I feel like the subway trip to & from work / school was perhaps the most head-clearing part of the day. For me, motion is a key ingredient to having healthy and active mind.
Looking back now and reflecting on this observation about myself, I think it also explains part of why I got so antsy and stir-crazy during COVID. As much as I love the accessibility of meeting with anyone in the world over zoom, I can’t stand the stasis of sitting in my little office all day long, not moving at all. It’s not that I need a bigger home office, I just need to be moving.
I’ve been this way my whole life, but I don’t think I every really noticed it so concretely until recently. I’m not sure what it says about my personality. My wife would probably say it has something to do with being an Aries; I don’t know. But regardless of the reason, it’s definitely how I am. And now that I realize that, I think I understand myself a little bit better.