The Art of Worldly Wisdom: Know How To Transplant Yourself

Baltasar Gracian’s Art of Worldly Wisdom is essential reading in anyone’s library. I found this rather fitting for the Third Culture Kid context.

Aphorism #198 Know how to transplant Yourself.

There are nations with whom one must cross their borders to make one’s value felt, especially in great posts. Their native land is always a stepmother to great talents: envy flourishes there on its native soil, and they remember one’s small beginnings rather than the greatness one has reached.

A needle is appreciated that comes from one end of the world to the other, and a piece of painted glass might outvie the diamond in value if it comes from afar. Everything foreign is respected, partly because it comes from afar, partly because It is ready made and perfect.

We have seen persons once the laughing-stock of their village and now the wonder of the whole world, honoured by their fellow-countrymen and by the foreigners [among whom they dwell]; by the latter because theycome from afar, by the former because they are seen from afar. The statue on the altar is never reverenced by him who knew it as a trunk in the garden. 

In my experience as a Third Culture Kid, I find when I have problems in one place, it’s because I get attached to the environment and people. It is only when I travel to another city, state, country, or continent do I realize where some problems begin, and it isn’t me. Likewise, when I move between groups of friends, I realize I don’t belong to them, I’m merely amongst them, and their drama and joy is mine as long as I stick around. This is why I move between different social groups often, whether it is my friends in the circles of taiko drumming, acting, parkour, spiritually-inclined, fighting, Third Culture Kids online, graduate students, Asian-American activists, indie music fans, b-boys, gamers, and the legal field.

Whenever someone tells me that I have a lot of interests and not a lot of focus, I disagree because all of these relate to one focus: self-improvement and increasing my ability to relate to more people. Transplanting oneself to me doesn’t mean just up and leaving for another city or country, but being able to talk to someone about video games one minute before being inspired to transition into talking about Kierkegaard and post-modernism because of the artistic inspiration behind a game we both enjoyed.

In other words, transplant yourself as necessary by being a renaissance person, and have at least one or two specializations. That way, you can keep yourself open to the flow of life and show a certain awareness and appreciation, while at the same time having a solid foundation in your specialty.

Know your audience and know yourself. When speaking to the youth, try to keep abreast of what’s going on in the their popular culture: transplanting yourself means knowing when to use dirty jokes to illustrate a point or to talk about someone like Justin Bieber when dealing with different people. Know how they might perceive you, and try to gauge just how much of what you can control in changing or controlling how they see you. Doing so means a mastery of transplanting and adapting instead of remaining static and parochial–which is what Third Culture Kids and fellow travelers learn in order to redefine themselves in new cultures and countries.

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5 responses to “The Art of Worldly Wisdom: Know How To Transplant Yourself

  1. Dont forget that roots are important too. Sometimes by trying to relate to everyone on a superficial level, we end up not relating to anyone at a deeper level. Have some people you can be accountable to and who you can get good advice from. Someone who will look after you and your interests if you should become unwell or a chrisis in your plans for life comes along. Savour the friends you make like a good meal. Take time to enjoy the flavor (and praise the cook).

    I too can relate to having a wide area of interests and hobbies, readily adapting to whatever comes my way. As you say one or two specialisations are important as employers do not readily see how someone with so many interests can fit a particular role. For jobs, tailor your resume/CV to suit the job and if you have done a wide variety of jobs, just highlight what things you did in a job that would be relevant to the job you apply for.

  2. Thank you for sharing! Yes, I agree that we should have a deeper level, hence why I mention having a specialization or two in addition to being able to relate in some small way or another.

    In having multiple levels of being able to relate, on both a superficial and deeper level, it creates or bridges distance when necessary, particularly around people whom you haven’t reached a certain level of familiarity with–or those whom you don’t feel the need or desire to!

  3. Thanks Johnny, I think we all do to some level but some TCKs struggle with the deeper level. Perhaps what truly defines the capability and maturity of a TCK is their ability to deal with rejection. Do they just move on or do they see is as a challenge to overcome? In the pursuit to better ones-self have they got an anchorpoint of stability and shelter in the storm or are they blown around wherever the wind takes them and get cut and bruised on the way.

    For many TCK’s in the past, there was little help to deal with the negative aspects of TCKness. Now with the awareness that we have, there is so much more potential to enjoy being a TCK and have a sense of belonging.

    I like the word you use: “Transplant”. I think you mean plant transplant rather than organ transplant.

    For a transplant to succeed, it needs to be in optimal condition, in the right season, be protected from diseases and pests. Also, putting in seedlings rather than direct seeding is recommended. Transplant shock should be avoided at all costs for the plant to have the best chance of surviving the transplant.
    Plants raised in a protective area need chance to acclimatise and this is known as “hardening off”. Root disturbace should be minimised.
    The stage of growth that a transplant takes place, the weather conditions during transplant and the treatment immediately after transplanting are all a factor.

    If we look at the life of many TCKs there is often little preperation or consideration for the needs of the person when transplanting them. No wonder then when they struggle to survive in their new setting. Others have been able to “harden off” and adapt. But with continual movement, there is little chance that the roots will grow deep enough to weather a storm when it comes.
    TCKs need good gardeners to ensure they have the best chances of adapting to a new “climate” of growing strong in a new soil. The more effort that goes into a transplant the better chance of “survival” and growth. Let us strive to encourage good TCK gardening and support for the transplants that are struggling to cope in a new soil.

  4. Although most vegetables and flowers can be started from seed, it is common to buy transplants instead. Transplants can be more convenient, easier to grow, and get bigger faster. Some plants do not grow true from seed, so transplants are the only option.

    Too often, transplants are sold without any instructions as to how to plant them. While not hard, transplanting successfully does require a bit of knowledge. First, have the plants been hardened off? If you bought your plants in a greenhouse or home, or store, they probably should be hardened off before you plant them.

    This process cushions the shock of going from a sheltered environment into the big, bad world. The plant is left outside a few hours in the shade the first day, then brought in. The time is lengthened until the plant is out all day. This takes about a week. Make sure the soil is kept moist and the plant is out of the wind during this time.

    Next, dig a hole a bit deeper than the pot the plant is in. Turn the plant and pot upside down and gently slide the plant out of the pot. You may have to try harder if the plant is rootbound, but pulling the top off the plant is bad form.

    Now, put the plant, roots down, in the hole. The little ball of soil around the roots should be just under the surface of the flower bed. Fill in the hole with the same soil that is in the rest of the flowerbed. Tamp down firmly but not roughly. The plant should be in a slight depression now. This will hold the water when the bed is watered. You will need to water the plant in or it will rapidly dehydrate and die.

    This procedure is not as quick as just plunking a plant in the ground, but it increases the survival rate significantly. Try it and see.

  5. Excellent analogy and point, Paul; I think that your response here is essential reading with this post. 🙂

    I believe initially and for the most part, appreciating one’s TCK-ness and refining the ability to transplant is easier in hindsight. With practice, however, it becomes more natural and always something to constantly improve. For that reason, that’s why I believe at a certain point of having this awareness of being a TCK, I strive to be a Globalist and emphasize “we, we, we” to truly be a good child of the planet.

    I’ll be following-up on this post later this month with the art of chivalry and good manners, which go well with being a worldly individual, regardless of whether or not one is a TCK or traveler. Thank you once again! 🙂

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