Grounding Myself During Perpetual Motion

After many months of plotting and daydreaming, I’ve finally stumbled into the reality that I set in motion so long ago. I am now a perpetual nomad. I now carry my world with me and wherever I am staying for the night is home.

The prospect makes me giggle when I’m alone at night, typing away at my computer. The reality of it makes me step back and wonder how I got here.

My home for a week in Eugene, O.R. Biker Nick just arrived from a long day trek through Oregon on his way towards Virginia, raising money for victims of domestic violence. Bluegrass Nick is a fixture at the hostel, keeping the faint melodies of his beautiful mandolin Molly lingering in the air and looking for the pinnacle pair of wingtips to complete his fashion statement.

And sometimes, the gravity of it sends me into cold sweats. Seriously, I have no home. My comforting stack of books isn’t resting by my bedside. My favorite kitchen knife is 2000 miles away and my furry little friend is now relaxing at the beach with her Grandmother.

How does one find comfort when the items of familiarity are gone? When every face is a new relationship, when every glance and “good morning” comes from a virtual stranger?

How do you ground yourself in a place you’ve never been before? How do you keep your sanity when you’re life has truly entered the perpetual present moment stage?

Only one factor makes this possible- KNOW THYSELF.

Seems trivial or obvious- but such a lifestyle- or unconventional travel in general- requires an intense knowledge of self. Beyond what is necessary in everyday life.

Everyday life brings about the comforts that keep us grounded- the nests we build in our homes, the faces we see at the office, the bus driver that greets us every morning and the barista who knows the particular way we take our morning latte.

When you step away from those elements of the familiar, you are left with yourself, your doubts and your strengths. And a battle will wage- fast and furious. Checking your bank account balance takes on a whole new meaning when you have to pay for the next 5 nights of lodging and your client’s invoice is past due. Staying in a hostel with strangers of a transient, and somewhat questionable disposition, takes a degree of awareness not normally tapped into on a regular basis. Finding a sense of community- any community- becomes a vital element to maintaining your sanity.

When I enter a new place for a temporary stay, I seek out the Third Place almost instantly. I stumbled upon the concept of the Third Place when one of my mentors handed me a copy of “The Great Good Place” which studied the community gathering spots throughout the world. The first place is home, the second place is work and the Third Place is where you find your community and where they gather. I grew up watching episodes of Cheers with my father and spent many years as a bartender- so the Third Place has been a part of my life for many decades.

And now The Third Place is my familiar- wherever I may find it.

After my first good nights sleep in a new location, I ask the person manning the front desk of my temporary home where the nearest coffee shop is and I hit the streets. I look for indications of community, bulletin boards, restaurants with vibrant porches, parks, pubs, local markets and grocery stores.

But my mother-ship is the Third Place. And my most comfortable Third Place is the vibrant coffee shop. The sights, the sounds, the smells- these all indicate a strong community that is grounded in the sharing of a beverage and conversation.

The Wandering Goat is one of my Third Places during my time in Eugene. This coffee shop is a staple in the Whiteaker neighborhood and remains hidden in the industrial areas of this eclectic community.

I am merely an outsider in their world, but in this environment I find my comfort zone. I can breathe. I can relax. And the stress of travel and the unknown aspects of tomorrow no longer matter in this moment. I have found my familiar- not the place, but the actual human interaction that happens within the place.

No matter where I am in the world, no matter the language, no matter the chaos and the conflict outside the walls of the Third Place- the humanity that unfolds within the walls of this safe haven reminds of my place in the world. The Third Place reminds me that everyone, everywhere is simply living their life in a manner that suits them- in a way that brings them some joy. In this space, community thrives- laughter, conversation, debate and dreams grow and move into the world.

Friends gather on the street corner in front of a Third Place in the Hawthorne neighborhood of Portland, O.R. Such places are my favorite, for their big picture windows allow me to sit and watch the community gather at their Third Place.

And for someone with no actual home, who may or may not be in the same town tomorrow- the fact that the Third Place exists wherever humanity has the ability to gather, congregate and connect- means I will always find something that grounds me. No matter where I roam, the Third Place will give me comfort, will become my familiar and will allow me to do great work within the world.

The Third Place gives me hope and reminds me of the beauty of humanity, no matter the chaos beyond.

Sometimes I'm lucky enough to have a furry friend as keeper at a hostel. Oso, partial "owner" of the Whiteaker Hostel, stakes his claim in the theater room every morning while the other owner of the hostel tends to the days tasks and keeps his ship running. The Whiteaker is actually a Third Place as well, which is what drew me to return here on a whim. After an overwhelming- yet life-altering- conference of World Domination, I knew I needed to ground myself again and I needed familiar places. I had stayed here two years ago, at the start of my first Walkabout and the launch of this blog. I knew the time had come to return.