Migratory Instinct












I have mentioned that I like to re-arrange the furniture.  It is one thing that keeps me sane.  But my problem is deeper than that.

–In the end, many TCKs develop a migratory instinct that controls their lives.  Along with their chronic rootlessness is a feeling of restlessness: “Here, where I am today, is temporary.  But as soon as I finish my schooling, get a job, or purchase a home.  I’ll settle down.”  Somehow the settling down never quite happens.  The present is never enough — something always seems lacking.  An unrealistic attachment to the past, or a persistent expectation that the next place will finally be home, can lead to this inner restlessness that keeps the TCK always moving.  — from Third Culture Kids by David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken

I have finished school.  I have a job.  I purchased a home.  I have a child.  I am settled down.  I’m not going anywhere.

I re-arrange the furniture.  I plan long elaborate trips all over the world.  I pour over airline timetables.  I read travelogues.

I lived in Russia for many years with the landlady’s furniture or no furniture at all.  It drove me crazy.  I would complain to my husband – “When are we going to be able to buy some decent furniture that is comfortable and just be in one place for a while?”  I dreamed of living in a comfortable place that was my own where I could just RELAX.

I still think about it. It is always someplace cosy and small and it is raining outside.

Truth is, I hate the rain.  I find it confining.

And to be completely honest, there aren’t too many places I am longing for.  Travel today is difficult.  For some reason I am drawn to South America.  I want to stay on in my own hemisphere.  Or maybe New Zealand.  And I have never been to Egypt….

In times of conflict and confusion, I turn to Gertrude.  She clears it up for me.


I know of nothing more pleasing more soothing more beguiling than the slow hum of the mounting.  I had never even seen an airplane near before not near enough to know how one got in and there we were in.  That is one of the nice things about never going to the movies where there are so many surprises… Reading does not destroy surprise it is all a surprise that it happens as they say it will happen.  But about the airplane we had known nothing and it was an extraordinarily natural and pleasant thing much more simple and natural than anything even than walking, perhaps as natural as talking but certainly more natural than doing any other thing.  And so we liked it and whenever we could we did it. — Everybody’s Autobiography by Gertrude Stein


A sense of humor is key….

7 thoughts on “Migratory Instinct

  1. Excellent post about the restlessness within many of us! The back and forth, the need to settle vs. the need to move. I love that quote by Gertrude Stein!

  2. I understand well that expectant, ‘grass is always greener’ feeling of what may be right around the corner… It’s a challenge for most of us to be present in the moment, enjoying where we are.

  3. Yes it’s so true I have the same problem with the restlessness. Then again I prefer to keep my furniture in the same place. I don’t want to change my telephone number, email address or anything else if possible. Strange isn’t it…

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