So let's take it back more than 12,500 years: humans aren't doing anything productive. We're hunter-gatherers, we set up camp near wherever we think the food (berries, plants, and huntable animals) will be at. We build simple structures to protect ourselves from the elements, but we take them down and start over somewhere else when the food supply dwindles. Most of our time and energy is put towards the highly productive task of not-dying.
It isn't until we get our collective act together and develop agriculture about 12,500 years ago that we actually settle down in one place and make permanent homes. Here, homes still have the purpose of protection from Nature's hissy fits, but also act as more durable places to set up shop for the long haul. So people build settlements, but naturally there's not a ton of infrastructure; it's not like you can ride 50 miles in any direction and still have your daily Starbucks latte. Anchored to their large slash-and-burn farms, people tend not to move around much, barring war or particularly malevolent acts of nature.
How 'bout Now?
A lot has changed in the past decade or thousand. It took two days of me lounging around in a tent to realize that we have the luxury of an unprecedented level of mobility. Long before home ownership became something to check off of the "American Dream Bucket List," homes were just a place to not die, conveniently positioned near your farm and the rest of your relevant infrastructure. In this wondrous modern era, resources like food, water, plumbing, electricity, and even Internet are more or less ubiquitous in most of the desirable parts of the planet, and we have the modern miracles of cars and planes to travel to them. This means that, for certain lifestyles, the home can take a position of obsolescence. Anecdotally, I had no problem leaving everything (not that there was much to leave) behind for a weekend, and settling down 200 miles away with nothing more than a wallet and a bag of clothes. That's a big difference from 12,000 years ago: if you packed your bags and traveled 200 miles you'd likely find yourself 200 miles from the nearest human being, and you'd make some nice puppy chow for a pack of wolves. More comfortingly, now that humanity has settled pretty much everywhere and bent nature to our will, we have all the allowances of modern life all over the place, with a greatly reduced risk for puppy-chow-ification.
The reason we don't take advantage of our profound mobility is obvious: we've cast our anchors. We're anchored to our jobs, to our families, to our weekend tennis club meetups, and even to the piles of stuff we've been accumulating in garages, sheds, desk drawers, and cabinets. For the majority of people (who by and large are not travelling salesmen), it's completely unfeasible to dig this ever-more massive anchor out of the mud it's so firmly embedded in. Who would have thought that a basement full of forgotten Christmas presents would be a modern day Excalibur?
Loosening The Sword
I'm making a very conscious effort to make sure my life doesn't play out like the scene I set above. While the truck is still my "home", the traditional idea of home plays a much less important role in my life. Yes, I'm still anchored to the Bay by my job, but if all goes to plan, that'll only be the case for a proportionally short period of time.
When I first set out on this journey eight months ago, I thought I had it all figured out. I was going to truck it up for a few years, and then spend six whole months travelling before returning to work for the next 30-odd years. This was before I knew about the Trinity study and withdrawal rates and 401k's and HSAs and IRAs (oh my). But now, with everything falling into alignment, it seems silly that I thought six months would be enough time to do all the travelling I've spent my youth dreaming about. How could I possibly see everything there is to see when travelling 500 miles in any direction might as well be a new planet?
I guess I was worried that if I didn't travel soon, I'd never do it at all. But, if a bit of delayed gratification is all it takes to turn a six month trip into a lifelong adventure, I'm more than on-board. Plus, now that I'm more settled in my job, I'm finding that I do get to do a fair bit of work travel (in fact I'll be visiting two countries next month alone). My work-sanctioned excursions will be more than enough to tide me over until I can make travelling a full-time job. Then, I won't even have to drag up my anchor (since I'm hellbent on keeping this metaphor going). I'll just quietly cast the chain overboard and watch it sink down as I drift off into the sunset.
*I did really, really poorly on the AP US History exam in high school, so take everything I say with a kidney stone-inducing amount of salt.