I’m sitting on my inflated Thermarest camping mattress on the hardwood floor of my new room in Lower Haight. In the absence of furniture, my belongings are half-falling out of boxes and scattered around the hardwood floor, my yoga mat, Thermarest and sleeping bag are my bed, a box of books my computer stand, mug on the floor my water glass. I’ve entered the nesting phase of moving, that glorious span of days when my belongings explode out of their respective boxes, suitcases, containers and I can finally really see what I actually own. Much like the artist’s process of painting a rough outline of indiscernible shapes before filling in the details, this nesting phase is a vital part of the art of moving.

Moving, like creating art, is a continual process of refinement. We refine our understanding of ourselves and the world around us by observing  our reactions to new places and situations. We experience new things that we don’t like, that further solidify the things that we prefer. For instance, I once spent three months living in a yoga ashram. While it was an enlightening experience in more ways than one, it also confirmed that living situations that are far removed from the bustle and activity of the rest of the world do not suit me well. I like the option of being able to walk a couple of blocks, or right down the stairs, for a cup of coffee and hum of a coffee shop espresso machine. I enjoy witnessing others  living out their lives whether they are doing so on the quiet streets of Carbondale, Colorado or on the busy corner of Haight and Fillmore. Thanks to my experiences in a situation not ideal, I come closer to placing myself in a situation that is ideal. For some people this constant refinement of their opinions and desires is disconcerting, for others, it is fulfilling.

The most important thing to maintain while moving continuously is some sort of grounding force. For most people, a home, a kitchen, a bedroom, a lazyboy chair-those are the things that ground them. Location is foundation. For the nomad, foundation is more elusive, it needs to be fostered in ways beyond physical location. For me, a mug of fresh coffee in the morning–even when sipped to the chaotic rhythm of horns honking in Kathmandu–is foundation, gazing at my belongings spread out on an empty floor, the heart pounding effort of a long run through a new neighborhood. These are tangible pieces of connectedness that supersede a steady location.

Not to say having a solid homebase isn’t at times a wonderful and very welcome thing. That’s part of the art of moving, too: knowing when to stop. For now, even if only a six month span or so, I’m content to let my physical motion settle in the high ceilings of this old Victorian in Lower Haight, and for the refining process of this new living experience to begin.

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