Is there such a thing as the nesting instinct? Until recently I would probably have said no, what a load of crap. However not long after we get back from our US trip, I find myself franticly reorganising all my cupboards and clothes.

It didn’t seem that long ago that my laundry ‘basket’ was an entire corner of the room. I had a mattress on the floor, breezeblocks and a couple of wooden planks for shelves. Reorganising back then would have meant moving the skis into the hallway so I didn’t trip on them. Single man back then though.

Roll on twenty years and I have an unexpected and genuine desire to tidy up and organise. Even when everything is in order, Erin and I find ourselves frantically hanging pictures that have been lying around since we moved in, shifting furniture, going to the DIY store for bits and pieces. Most unusual behaviour.

It’s not even a one off, it is consistent, and we’re happy doing this for three or four weekends in a row. Even more surprising, I keep everything in order afterwards. Thankfully I snap out of it eventually and take myself off for a number of beers.

Nesting instinct? Or just common sense… Maybe an awareness that the time to do all this stuff is running out? Maybe the knowledge that if I’m going to be spending a lot more time at home, I might as well make it as comfortable as possible?

I guess that’s what instinct is, common sense and foresight, allowing you to prepare for future events.

Anyway, nesting, or whatever, is doing funny things to me.

Years ago I saw a quote from Gandhi in a shop window in Zanzibar. After stopping to read it I walked on, but it held my attention until I turned back, and wrote it down on an old envelope I happened to have. There were other odd little pieces of wisdom or observations added throughout the years.

As I traveled across Africa, back home, out to the states and eventually down to the Caribbean, the envelope was filled with mementos, postcards and photographs. When I moved to Australia I brought it with me. And during my month of organisation, of picture hanging and nesting, I find I have to dig the Gandhi quote out.

I want to frame it and hang it somewhere. It becomes a minor obsession and, when I can’t find it I panic, searching everywhere in the house until it turns up in a drawer. The relief is huge, and I realise the level of anxiety I’m feeling is inconsistent with what I’m actually looking for. I know it’s just a bit of paper; I know I could look the quote up, but I really need to unearth this tattered little relic of my past.

“To me life is far too great a mystery, far too sacred a gift of God to be praised adequately from one particular angle. And that is why I said so categorically that the greatest artist is he who lives the finest life. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow has not yet come, but today is ours, to make or mar. Let us fill it with small deeds nobly done. But noble deeds come from noble thoughts.”—Mahatma Gandhi

I believe this to be 100 percent correct. That is how people should live their lives. And I suppose it reinforces this new step, as being just another one of life’s experiences. Growth. Viewing things from as many different perspectives as possible. Words of wisdom from a great man, discovered by a younger me.

Perhaps I just don’t want life’s events to overtake me, and maybe it is a reminder of my idealistic self. Someone I want to hold on to. Who knows.

Anyway, it’s framed now and sits on my desk. I read it often.

I didn’t know anyone with children when my wife was expecting. So I’d sit in front of my computer at the end of the day and squeeze my life out onto the keys. This is a little part of what I wrote, and if you’re thinking about having a kid, it’s a wee taster of what might be ahead.