We have lived longer in the condo where we’re currently living than any other place we’ve ever lived. This hit me recently. Hard.
“No wonder I feel restless!” I said to someone who would listen. “I’ve never worked at a job as long as I have this one, I’ve never gone so long without rearranging the furniture, without looking at places to move”
But I don’t only feel restless — I feel almost guilty that we’re ‘stable’. It caught me like a steel trap, vice-like in its intensity. I felt guilty for being stable, for not having tickets purchased, a move on the calendar. I felt the guilt of stability.
Because too often I make the third culture kid mistake of equating stability with stagnancy. If I am stable it must mean my life is unexciting, boring. If I am stable I must be doing something wrong. If I buy a house then I am settling for mediocrity. If I suddenly realize that I am content, that I no longer struggle with TCK envy then something is out of place.
When your identity is semi-rooted in movement, then you face a crisis when you stay put, when you plant roots, when you’re ‘stable.’
But stagnancy and stability are not the same thing.
I know people who have lived their entire lives in the same town but are not stagnant. Their lives are vibrant and full — they are part of their communities and give of what they have, both physically and emotionally. They use their rootedness to help others root.
I know others who have traveled the world — yet in a sense are stagnant. They live for self and self-indulgence. Their pictures are of exotic places and more exotic drinks. Yet I don’t see them using what they have to give, to help others.
Stability – strong, secure, safe, steady, firm. Those are adjectives with substance. They mean something. They are foundational to living well. Stability can be present in a life of movement or in a life where you are rooted in one place. Stability is not about where you live, it’s about how you live.
I don’t know what this next year will hold — will there be a move on the horizon and will our seven years in the same place end? Or will we continue to live here, seeking to be rooted and stable but not stagnant.
What about you? Have you been rooted for a long time or are you newly planted somewhere? Would love to hear from you through the comments!
Photo credit: http://pixabay.com/en/arrangement-balance-group-nature-21530/ word art by Marilyn R. Gardner