Living in a Gilded Cage

“Living in a Gilded Cage”  references an individual who is living in luxurious surroundings but is somehow trapped.


I am from Texas the second largest state in the 50 United States of America. If you  have never been to the US, the country itself is  3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2). Texas takes up an area of 268,820 square miles (696,241 square kilometers). I currently live in a country which consist of an area of  4,416 sq mi (11,437km) and only one large city.

I am use to getting in my car and driving anywhere I would like to go whether across town, to another city, another state or just drive across the United States. I miss the open road, the freeways which link cities to cities  weaving through countryside and towns like a big beautiful maze.



Until I can be freed of this gilded cage if only for a vacation, I will be dreaming of windows down and hair flying in the wind and seeing nothing but open road in my windshield and rear view mirror.


May your life be full and free.

Constance Citalán

You may find this interesting *I have driven several times from Dallas, Texas to El Paso, Texas which is a 10 hour drive (you could drive across several countries within that time frame in Europe.


Related articles
Sources: “living in a gilded cage”
  •  To be like “a bird in a gilded cage” is to live in luxury but without freedom: (source: Source: The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition)
  • The encumbrances or limitations that often accompany material wealth, as in She had furs, jewelry, whatever money could buy, but was trapped in a gilded cage . This metaphoric expression indicating that riches cannot buy happiness was popularized (and possibly coined) in a song, “A Bird in a Gilded Cage” ( 1990; lyrics by ArthurJ. Lamb, music by Harry von Tilzer), about a young girl marrying for wealth instead of love and paying for luxury with a life of regret.
  • A bird in a gilded cage is a woman “kept” in a nice apartment by a wealthy man, so the gilded cage, by extension, means a relatively comfortable kind of servitude or bondage. (source:


This entry was published on March 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm. It’s filed under Expat Life, Home/Archive and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

9 thoughts on “Living in a Gilded Cage

  1. I can relate to your Hawaiian Gilded Cage syndrome, yet I live on the third largest continent on earth, that being Australia, but in it’s own way, it too has many and varied gilded cages.

    Australia’s most restrictive problem, being the fact, that it is in itself, an island, which is located so far from the rest of the world in which it exists, just like your Hawaii; but unlike your Hawaii, the size and different terrains of this huge continent, which reaches from it’s more moderate and cooler south, through it’s wide open plains and huge deserts, to its tropical north, where, as one travels this huge continent, they can experience every imaginable condition, from ice and snow covered mountains, to deserts, wide open plains and tropical forests, which can leave anyone residing outside its Capital (mostly coastal located) Cities, feeling cut off by the tyranny of distance, and the time it takes to travel.

    Having grown up in, and spent a large part of my life in a City, then at 45, taken on Dairy Farming, I have experienced rural, remote, and city living.

    I chose to farm where there were many ways out of the area, I avoided choosing a location in any valley, beautiful and all as those environments are, I saw them as nice places to visit, but so suffocating to live in, because there was only one way out, and like I say, the distance was so far from any City with all its conveniences, I truly believed I’d go mad if I only had one route to follow every time I needed to travel to pick up, or do something, so out onto the plains I went to choose my farm and live the next 20 years of my life being able to see for a distance, rather than trapped between some mountains, unable to see anything else.

    Distance is no different to the bars of a cage, it restricted my ability to escape, to get away, with the result, at the end of my days, I have found perfection as a fringe dweller.

    I am now retired and live just outside the Metropolitan area, with all the conveniences of a City, and all the beauty of the country, yet I am only 30 minutes from the CBD of the City, and can instantly escape into the bush any time I feel the urge.

    I thought you may be interested in a similar yet different perspective, regardless of the size of the island.

    • The Essentials in Life Beauty.Fashion.Design on said:

      What a nice surprise to see a comment from you. I apologize for the delay as I have taken a hiatus while starting a new business venture. Thank you very much for giving me your prospective of living on one of the largest “islands” in the world. My husband and I were just speaking about Australia the other day and said it really is a very big island!

      Your farm life sounds wonderful and being trapped between mountains sounds beautiful.

      Thank you again for your experience.

      Kindest regards,

      Expat State of Mind

    • As we say here in Hawai’i, Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much) to “bobbook” for this really interesting and insightful contribution to the “Gilded Cage” syndrome. I love the thought of the continent of Australia being an island — which, of course, it is. At the other end of the spectrum, because we have all but two of the world’s climatic zones here on Big Island Hawai’i, we often think of our island as a mini-continent. You know, the ancient Hawaiian had no word for “island” because they really didn’t know what an “island” was. They had nothing to compare it to. Having never experienced anything other than this particular archipelago, it was just their world as they knew it. They did have the word “moku” — a jurisdictional region — which might include several “ahupua’a” — community land divisions. But the whole idea of “island” in contrast to “continent” was completely foreign to them.

      My cousin Constance’s blog is entitled “Expat STATE OF MIND” and I love that description because the reality in which we dwell at any given moment is pretty much a construct of our own thinking. I mean, yes, there are particular geographical variables, of course, but how we perceive that reality, and such concepts as “freedom” or “confinement,” are more the result of the life experiences we bring to it, and how we choose to interpret and apply those experiences, than it is anything else. Had I only experienced your continent my whole life, could I ever really be happy on an island — or would I always feel too constrained and isolated by small perimeters? Had I only experienced islands my whole life, could I ever really be happy on a continent — or would I feel overwhelmed and isolated by the vastness?

      But, when we come down to it, while we don’t always have a great deal of control over where we live — being often constrained by life’s circumstances and the situations and opportunities life throws our way — we do have some control over how we choose to interpret our circumstances. Happiness is, after all, a choice!!!

      Can’t wait to get down your way and experience your marvelous continent!!!

      ~ Philip Stroud ~
      Kailua Kona, Hawai’i

  2. Philip on said:

    Know what I’ve discovered? You don’t have to completely leave the U.S. to experience that “gilded cage” syndrome. For the past 13 years, I’ve lived on the Big Island of Hawai’i, which is the largest, most remote, and most rural of Hawaii’s seven major islands. In fact, Hawai’i Island is more than twice the size of all the other Hawaiian islands combined — 4,028 sq. mi. (10,432.5 km2) — but, still, slightly smaller than the nation of Qatar. The permanent residential population is only 185,000. While it is a beautiful island and sports two of the largest mountain masses on earth — Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa — and the island has much diversity — from high desert, to grassy pampas, to lush, tropical rainforest, and even alpine and permafrost environments — still, I can drive from one side of the island to the other in about 2 hours; or circumnavigate the entire island in about 8 hours. I’ve often thought, when I’ve not been “off island” in quite a while and that ole “island fever” begins to set in, that life in Hawai’i is much akin to living in a “gilded cage” — beautiful in many ways, but often exacting a heavy toll emotionally. Perhaps that’s why so many who move here don’t stay long!

    ~ Philip ~

  3. What a coincidence – I’ve been thinking about this phrase since we moved to Mexico! I, too, miss the freedom of just going somewhere, of having choices. The part where we live is beautiful, yet very confined, and I keep dreaming about going back to the Pacific Northwest…

    • Hi Kristin, my husband is from Mexico and has always referred to many in Mexico which have to live in a gilded cage for security reasons. I guess all expats have some type of gilded cage. Oh how I envy those who get to be expats in our home countries! Maybe they feel too free, if there is such a feeling.

  4. Constance I once drove from Florida to Texas and THAT was a drive! PS love the bird cage photos they are beautiful. Here’s to you driving long distances again soon!

  5. True. I miss road trips up and down the coast of California. And camping!! And just driving to wherever, the desert, the mountains, the beach. We don’t have that kind of freedom over here in Singapore that’s for sure. It can be like a gilded cage- another aspect of the expatriate dilemma.

  6. museconfuse on said:

    🙂 I know what you mean, I love driving through Canada, it’s so beautiful. I guess I can do the same here but I don’t have a car yet…

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