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A neighbor in my condominium complex spent a recent Sunday moving. I watched with a mix of envy and sheer relief that it wasn't me.

By late afternoon the truck was full, bolted shut and rolling down the driveway. I waved at the driver and watched it disappear around the bend, thinking what I always think when I see a moving truck: "There goes a life."

By that I mean two things: The total sum of our earthly possessions fit into those trucks, the lifetime of things we've acquired and loved and hung onto and choose to carry with us to the next place we go.

It's also a symbol of a life changing, especially when the move is to a new city or state. When we move, we exchange the comfort of our familiar space, say goodbye to friends and neighbors, and maybe start a new job or even a new career someplace completely different.

Moving is, at best, bittersweet and slightly exhilarating, at worst frightening and exhausting.

Counting childhood and family moves, I have moved exactly 14 times in my life, which is nothing compared to people I've interviewed over the years who have moved a couple of dozen times in their adult lives.

In my travels as a reporter, I've noticed that people who move a lot tend to be better organized, better adjusted, at least on the surface. They have fewer possessions, less clutter and are often less sentimentally attached to the places they are living.

I have a feeling they worry less about whether a Waterford goblet or Lenox plate chips along the way (or they may just know how to pack things better).

Albert Einstein said that life is like riding a bicycle - to keep your balance you must keep moving.

I'm not sure whether he was actually talking about the physical act of moving, but there may be some truth to the idea that experiencing new homes and unfamiliar locales keeps us vital.

A woman I interviewed in Ruskin who had just moved from a particularly beautiful part of California couldn't stop ticking off the benefits of her move to Florida, including her huge network of new friends. She didn't give a hoot that her house was less fancy, the weather hotter or groceries more expensive - she loved the adventure and embraced the new chapter in the life she and her husband were carving out as Floridians.

I think moving is perhaps slightly less traumatic for couples or entire families than it is for a single person. They can share the joys and the hardships of adjusting to their new locale, get out and explore together.

They can also rely on each other to move the furniture around until they get the decorating right - probably, in my opinion, the hardest thing about leaving one place and settling in another. It always seems like just as you've finally gotten everything looking the way you want it, something comes up and it's time to move and start over again.

So when I see a moving van roll by, I say a prayer for some brave soul whose life is in upheaval.

Because I know it's about more than just furniture going to that new address.

It's about life moving on.

Elizabeth Bettendorf can be reached at