Its an evolution... a couple short years ago I chafed at being restricted to solo pattern work before I earned my private pilots license. It drove me crazy to not be able to go somewhere, anywhere, but around and around my home airport or to the local practice area to practice Private Pilot PTS maneuvers.
After I got my license I immediately launched on as many cross country trips as I could dream up. On those cross country trips I would have happily flown to whatever destination it was and not landed. I was just happy to be free to explore Northern California and, to be honest, I didn't like landing at new airports. Eventually I found landing at new airports gave me an opportunity to meet new people, see new sights, interact with other pilots and enjoy more of the freedom of flying. Also, the more often I landed at new airports the better I got at it.
Then I started instrument training - only one landing per flight there. I'd spend up to two hours in the air flying approaches and going missed at the MDA or DA, every approach, every time. Landing became something I would laugh at how bad I got... landing after instrument flying was hard for some reason. My CFI told me everyone has that problem. It was weird.
Instrument training over it was time for high performance and complex endorsements. Learning new planes was a lot of fun and I was doing more flying in the pattern again. This time was different however, pattern work was enjoyable, fun even. Then I went on my very long cross country flight, almost 17 hours of solo flying across the desert southwest. Landing at all kinds of strange airports at strange altitudes in unfamiliar air spaces. I expected to be bored flying alone and instead I really enjoyed the alone-ness in flight.
Now I find myself in a bit of a holding pattern waiting to start training for my commercial license. In the mean time I am flying cross country when I can and enjoying flying in the pattern too. When I fly cross country I enjoy the beauty and fun of cross country flight, but I find myself wishing I got to land more often. So sometimes I just go up and play in the pattern and enjoy landing and honing my skills there.
Funny how the cycle turns from student pilot wanting nothing more than to get away from the pattern to pilot finding fun in the same pattern, in play.