There are lefties and righties, innies and outies, conservatives and liberals, introverts and extroverts—all sorts of ways we seem to divide into either/or. Sure, it’s not totally true—we are all unique amalgams—but nevertheless it seems there are ways we naturally divide.
I’ve noticed one of these divisions between what I call nesters and perchers. Nesters are those who thrive by creating a comfort zone they either are in or know they are returning to. Their home is a place that reflects who they are and where they have been, and makes them feel centered and most comfortably themselves. They often put a lot of time, energy, and money into improving their nest, and once settled in, they tend to stay for a long time.
Then there are perchers. Perchers get antsy in one place. They thrive on change and the stimulation of new environments. They believe they may be missing something if they stick around one place too long. They invest less in where they live because it’s little more than a necessity and convenience. Perchers are pretty much okay wherever they are. That is, until they aren’t anymore. Then they go someplace else.
My guess is if there were a graph with Extreme Percher and Extreme Nester at opposite ends, most people would be able to point to where they fall on the continuum. Some perchers might even have a place that’s very much like a nest, but feel rather non-committal about it. Some nesters enjoy travel or other time away, but it is very important to them that home is waiting for them. My guess is few would place themselves at either extreme.
Where we are changes over the course of our lives as well. Maybe we lose our nest, and realize we don’t really need another. Or maybe the opposite—a vagabond who says “ Enough. I’m sticking around.” Maybe what makes us happy, what makes us authentic, should be in flux as we move through life.
I think I have always been a percher. Even in the years when I was raising my children, I never felt anything about the house we lived in. When I was in a new place I always wondered what it would be like to live there. I often fantasized about other cities and countries I might live in. (I still do.) I had a house in the San Bernardino mountains that I did indeed care deeply about, but when it became impractical and I decided to sell, I was surprised at how easy it was to leave it behind.
I am writing about this today because this travel experience has clarified something about perching. Picture a bird on a twig. It knows it is just there for a second. It is waiting for what’s next. I feel that way every day. I love living in the present, but I am excited about the opportunity for something different tomorrow. My center of gravity is constantly shifting just as that little bird’s is. There are only two states of being for me—balancing on the twig or flight to what’s next. Together they are my comfort zone.
I loved this Victor Hugo poem as a child. I guess I was a percher even then.
Be like the bird, who
Halting in his flight
On limb too slight
Feels it give way beneath him,
Knowing he has wings.
A place to perch and wings. That’s all I need. At least for now. But isn’t now what perching’s all about?