Bradley Green strikes a comparison between the life of an expat and the timeless nomadic traveller.
I have always been a rather restless fellow, never knowing whether to stick or twist; however, I think even just thinking about this could fortify the fact that I’m eternally stir-crazy, a term which usually refers to being in the same place too long and growing rather tired of it. It actually originated in prisons, which is the very last place you’d care to be with such tendencies. The term also refers aptly to being in situations such as a job that is no longer desirable, or even perhaps a relationship that is not as fulfilling as it once was. Although I wouldn’t quite know how I’d explain to a lover after four years of passion, or to the trusting boss, that I had ‘itchy feet’ and it was time for a change.
Living on the other side of the world would certainly seem to suggest that theory; it all makes a great deal of sense once you’ve met some of the local immigrants – many with the same thing in common: a vast distance between them and their respective countries, with no real thought as to when they’ll be back again. Seeing and interacting with other folk from varying parts of the globe, though comforting, is more just an ever-present reminder of an unsettled soul. It seems like a super massive black hole of some sort of infinite boredom, that delves deeper than the everyday dull duties we’re all too familiar with.
It’s an extreme case of boredom for sure, yet I think that’s exactly what it is. It’s not your average rainy day syndrome where you’re sat twiddling your thumbs for six hours, or the type of boredom you get from attending a family event, choking away on Auntie J’s dry chicken wings for the whole of a bland evening. It appears to be more on a psychological level: an anxiety-filled, short-tempered, fidgety nightmare of discontent at being in the same place for any length of time.
Throughout history, humans have always been nomadic, so perhaps it’s not such a surprising trait. You have three main types: the hunter-gatherers, the pastoral nomads, and the nomadic craft makers. Take the hunter-gatherers; they move from place to place, following game and all the wild fruits and berries. While far fewer in existence now, up until about 10,000 years ago all modern humans were nomadic hunter-gatherers. Then there are the pastoral nomads who move from place to place in order to find fresh pastures. Sound familiar? You only have to look at present-day Mongolia where roughly 30 percent of the population are nomadic. If anyone’s ever been to a festival, this is where you find your nomadic craft makers: popping to and from India, making jewellery and selling said tat at stalls far and wide.
So it doesn’t seem like the worst situation to be in after all. I’d take this right now over a semi-detached in suburban Britain, with a wife and kids that I’d be potentially weary of, and a job I’d have to drag myself into daily. There’s no harm in being stir-crazy, forever hopping from place to place, person to person, believing the grass must be greener. It’s in our blood.