It all sounds fun in the beginning. Live a life of adventure. Move to Cincinnati. Milwaukee. Atlanta. LA. Even if you stay predominantly in one town, it is still possible to fall into the trap. While in Tucson, I moved eleven times in nine years. We will not even count the months after college where the Scion xA was the closest thing I had to a permanent address. While it seemed fun in the moment, the long term effects of this lifestyle were anything but.
The transient lifestyle ultimately produced stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. I was constantly moving, yet getting nowhere. Furthermore, a deep longing for something more was starting to emerge. This longing was to be be known, feel settled, and ultimately experience greater joy in the day to day. I have met many frustrated and lonely souls who think shift can happen magically on its own. I was one, and I was wrong. I discovered it takes time, patience, and most of all, intentionality.
Since moving back to Phoenix, I decided to translate the minimalist approach often associated with material goods to my daily interactions, reducing the number of retail and service establishments I patronize to approximately ten. For all the mathematicians out there, this is roughly one establishment per life function – drinking coffee, drinking alcohol, worshipping Jesus, and buying groceries – perhaps in that order, perhaps not. I can recall months in the not too distant past where I patronized that many different Starbucks locations. After two years, the effects of becoming a "regular" are starting to kick in, and the longing I had always hoped for came true by age 30.
While in the midst of the chaos, I was unable to accurately account for the time, energy and emotion I was spending on trivial matters. I am scared to retroactively assign a figure. At this point, it is moot. The quality of life spoke for itself. Objectively speaking, however, it makes logical sense. Math doesn’t lie. These resources are finite. If they are spent on what does not matter, they are not available for what does. Once I was stop spending resources on the former, life got exciting.
Once I stopped spending time locating the frozen peas in every Frys, Safeway, and Whole Foods in a tri-city area, I was able to experience the victory found when I created my first custom AutoCad linetype after a 16 hours of research and development. Once I stopped exhausting mental energy figuring out what every cafe from Congress to St. Phillips calls a “large”, I was able to experience the joy found when the Smooth Brew barista handed me my drink before I requested it. Once I stopped making small talk at a new church every Sunday, I was able to experience the love, healing and grace found in the real talk that happens every Friday at Windsor with my best friend from church.
The decision to become a “regular” was the best decision I’ve made in recent years. It should go without saying that it is crucial to select your narrow list of establishments carefully. You will be back. Don’t get awful haircuts every six weeks and hate your life. In this case, abort mission. Don’t settle for sub-par. Test as quickly as possible and become a “regular” somewhere you are excited about. The sooner you have regularity, the sooner you will discover familiarity. The sooner you have familiarity, the sooner you will be open to vulnerability. The sooner you have vulnerability, the sooner you will certainly experience true community.