Some voluntary migrants are motivated in part by experiencing the home culture as too homogeneous or provincial. These individuals experienced themselves, and were perceived as, ‘different’ in their native culture and this contributed to a feeling of not-belonging. Migrants who are motivated by a need to be unencumbered, independent, on a journey to realise one’s self potential, could be called ‘existential migrants’. The motive is not economic betterment or only ‘escape from’, but includes elements of the ‘hero’s journey’ in Joseph Campbell’s words. The ‘call’ to leave home may manifest in similar ways to the ‘call of conscience’ that Heidegger describes below.
Greg Madison, from At-home in the Elsewhere.
Where is home and where do I belong? I am a stranger in my homeland, Puerto Rico, where I was born, and a stranger in the country to which we migrated, the United States of America. However, when I was growing up in the Bronx during the 50s and 60s I yearned to someday leave and discover other possibilities, other homes, other countries At 65 I have come to imagine what my mother felt when she arrived in New York City along with thousands of others who were looking for better opportunities for their families. Except my reasons were not due to economic desires, but of rich and diverse identities. Each journey brought visions of fluidity of self intermingled with others to create a third, fourth, and fifth self. It’s all about movement, fluidity.
My work explores the many facets of movement. It is not only about showing the journey, but also about what happens inside our minds when we are trying to come to terms with these feelings of ambiguity, isolation, and belonging. It is meant to be a conduit of expressions of existential migration. A migration that is synonymous to wanderlust, looking for a place where my identity will finally find that acceptance and belonging that I have been searching for.