Like me, my running buddy moved several times before high school. Unlike me, his family continued moving around when he was in high school. He went away to college, and away again to graduate school. Since then, he’s worked for three companies and lived in four countries in Europe and two in Asia. We became friends when he was back (temporarily) in the States before heading off to Kuwait. During a run one day, I asked him, “Where do you tell people you’re from?”

He laughed and said, “Wherever I am now.” I laughed too, and we ran on.

I understood my buddy’s deal. Like it or not, we’re competing in a global economy. Adapt or get crushed. Our generation has limited choices where we can get work. The next one may have no choice at all. To be fair, he seemed to enjoy his lifestyle. Nevertheless, I still had questions. Where are his roots? Does he even have any? Shouldn’t he?

Dr. Gianpiero Petriglieri addressed just this situation back in his 2012 article in the Harvard Business Review entitled, “Moving Around Without Losing Your Roots.” He’s Italian; his wife is British. At the time of the article, they lived in France, but were in the United States for a year for his work. Midway through the article he wrote, “Leaders need homes to keep their vision, passion, and courage alive—and to remain connected both to the people they are meant to serve, and to themselves.” There was my answer. My peripatetic buddy needed a home; he needed roots—we all do.

A few weeks later on what was to be our last run, I gave him the download on Dr. Petriglieri’s prescription for a connected home life.

We clipped along for a couple hundred meters before he said, “Home for me has never been a place. It’s been what I do.”

“What?”

“I love to run. I belong to two running clubs. I run with you during the week, and I hang with them on the weekends. Almost the first thing I do when I move to a new city is check out the running scene. Once I’m pounding the streets, I’m home. It works for me.”

"You can have more than one home. You carry your roots with you and decide where they grow." - Henning Mankell

Petriglieri concluded his article saying, “Without a local home we lose our roots, and without a global home we lose our reach.” My buddy had it figured out. He had his reach, and he had his roots. Okay, so he wasn’t rooted to a place, but to his passion.  It’s a different paradigm—strange even—but, maybe it’s one that all of us might do well to consider.

___________________________________

Jeff Strausser is an author, a playwright, and a freelance writer.  His short stories have been published in various literary journals, and he has contributed articles to various magazines.  In addition, he has written four textbooks for Barron’s Educational Series. Jeff’s stage plays have been performed by high school and community theatre groups throughout the United States and England.

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