Moving Day

I've moved many times over the years. Correction: I've moved many, many times over the years. Especially in my early years. A young man can afford to be on the move, no? It's almost expected. I come from a long line of movers and shakers, minus the shake. To me, moving—getting the hell out of Dodge—represents the most crucial bottom rung on the ladder of success. If you can't move, you can't live. Not really. Upward mobility starts with the physical mobility of hearth and home. The country I live in was founded by people who moved. The Native Americans who lived here before the Europeans came? Movers. The westward-gazing pioneer types who settled California and Oregon? Movers. (The barbarians who sacked Rome repeatedly? Movers.) History is made, for better or worse, by those who move. Emerson's famous objection to travel notwithstanding.

I am not much an advocate for travelling, and I observe that men run away to other countries because they are not good in their own, and run back to their own because they pass for nothing in the new places. For the most part, only the light characters travel. Who are you that have no task to keep you at home? I have been quoted as saying captious things about travel; but I mean to do justice. .... He that does not fill a place at home, cannot abroad. He only goes there to hide his insignificance in a larger crowd. You do not think you will find anything there which you have not seen at home? The stuff of all countries is just the same. Do you suppose there is any country where they do not scald milk-pans, and swaddle the infants, and burn the brushwood, and broil the fish? What is true anywhere is true everywhere. And let him go where he will, he can only find so much beauty or worth as he carries.

The question before us is how to achieve the mobility modern life requires without losing the rootedness—the quality or characteristic of being grounded in the land, connected with nature, surrounded by community and tradition—that humans are biologically engineered for. So far as I know, this question remains unanswered in the entire liberal modernist intellectual canon. Most members of the Ivy League, busy as they are slicing and dicing the world according to the politics of identity, aren't even aware they need to be asking it.