I travel to multiple continents a year and leave a piece of my heart behind after every trip. Ever since 2006 when I spent more time overseas than at home, people and places of different cultures have fascinated me. Since launching Love Good in 2013, seeing the power of beauty to unite families and communities across 35 states and 7 countries has been a source of profound inspiration and joy.
And yet, there is no place like home.
More and more, I find myself agreeing with G.K. Chesterton’s definition of adventure: climbing down your own chimney and loving the people right in front of you. With family in Atlanta and friends all over the world, it’s amazing that Nashville still feels like home more than anywhere. While I have childhood roots all over the Southeast (and as far north as Boston), my deepest sense of belonging always bring me back to Music City, USA.
Moving to Nashville as a freshman at Vanderbilt University felt like stepping on to the set of my favorite movie. From 200 live shows a night to Jack Daniels flowing at 120 gallons per minute, there’s no doubt that Nashville is a place of great cultural influence. Every corner of the world knows and appreciates what we are, whether or not they’re a huge fan of Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and our country music legends.
But there’s more to our town than just celebrities and bachelorette parties (though those numbers are growing at an alarming rate). On top of the live music overflowing from every bar, coffee shop, and venue in the city, Nashville is a place of beautiful and authentic culture. It is full of cool local restaurants and young entrepreneurs. It rallies behind creative ideas and mission-minded people. It treats strangers like family and artists like royalty. Living in Nashville for the entirety of my adult life feels still like a dream come true.
A few years ago, I ran for city council. Though I lost decisively (a story for another blog), I’ll never forget walking the streets of my district and spending hours at a time in conversation with the most salt-of-the-earth people I’d ever met. Before that, I spent years setting up homes for young adults in Nashville who wanted to live, pray, and work in community. Alongside friends, I created a space for people out-of-college-but-not-yet-married to do life together. Because of these homes, many young adults went on to meet their spouses and pursue their life mission. Most recently, we launched the Love Good apprenticeship program with a vision of intensely living the art of accompaniment and empowering young people across Nashville to change the world. To this day, I cannot explain my love for this great town and my desire to influence it for the good. But like all true loves, it has a permanent hold on my heart.
One of the highest level rewards for our summer contest is a free weekend for two in Nashville. Everything in me cannot wait to show off my favorite city on planet earth. While I will always love Rome and the English countryside and will never tire of annual trips to New Zealand, there is something unspeakably special about my hometown. And everyone seems to feel it when they visit, no matter their age, nationality, or preferred musical genre.
From the Batman building in our ever-growing skyline to the families that treat me like an adopted son, coming home to Nashville (after short trips and long trips) always feels magical. No, I probably won’t stop traveling anytime soon, and I’ll always be fascinated by cultures all around the world. Most especially, I’ll continue to hold young people in my heart who live hundreds and thousands of miles away. But I’m excited to be home right now after a wild and crazy summer. I’m excited to be climbing down my own chimney again and loving the people right in front of me. Indeed, there is no place like home.
Let the adventure begin.