Settling seems to be a substantial form of acceptance. We settle into an un-fulfilling job. We accept and settle for a mate even though it is not a relationship that sustains us. We settle into circumstances and stories. Since children we are somehow taught that once a decision is made the outcome is all there is, so we need to settle.
I remember hearing all the time as a child “settle down.” If I questioned something I needed to “backup and settle down.” If I got into an abusive friendship or relationship others would say, “Isn’t that what you settled for? Deal with it. You play, you pay.” Standing back now I realize that the word “settling” is negative. At least it is for me. It is a synonym for adjusting, conforming and concluding something that is not authentic to my spirit.
I don’t want to just settle. I want to make mistakes, move on and chose my life. Settling seems so final. It feels like an emotional death. Why settle? I refuse to just colonize with one particular thing. Even when I began dating my boyfriend I put it out to the universe that it was a one-time shot. We would go out and see what happened. I wasn’t going to just settle into anything unless it enhanced the best of me. In all of my past relationships I just settled. I figured it was all that I deserved. I know what my soul yearns. It is in moments that I ignore the inkling that “settling” seems to be the only thing paralyzing me to do. And now seven months later I know we haven’t settled. We are moving together and expanding in every form of contentment. No two moments are alike. We each have our own goals and desires but we can walk the path together without judgment.
As parents, lovers, friends, and professionals we get comfortable and squat into our roles. I have to ask myself now, what are these roles? There is also the positive side of the phrase, “settling down” that seems to stem from the idea that we should not be alone. “So-and-so got married and finally settled down.” I have heard this so many times. I often think, did that person just settle into a relationship in order to not be alone? Or did that person finally find someone they wanted to build a healthy relationship with? Is that person able to bring out the best qualities in them? Is that person moving towards similar goals while sharing a path? Settling down seems like a bunch of hogwash of pressure from a social interaction.
I recently met a woman who stayed in our retreat center. She came to get married in a barn. Her story fascinated me. She and her husband met in high school. She went off and traveled the world. He got married and had a family. He got divorced many years ago. For the past 10 years he went to every high school reunion hoping to see her. She never went to a single one of them. She was too busy enjoying a life of adventure. Finally she went to one last year. They saw each other, picked off where they left off as teenagers, and now a year later got married on a barn on top of a mountain. They are in their late fifties. She said, “I wasn’t willing to settle down. I wasn’t going to just settle for anything. Life is too short.” Those words pierced something in me about how I feel about settling. When she was ready she finally explored the options to accept a mate into her life. No one believed she would ever get married. It has been most shocking to her. But, in the midst of that shock she found true love. She is ready to share, not settle, and keep having amazing adventures with a companion. And, this to me is what embraces a life full of truth and wonder. Settling…yeah…that’s for those whose imagination is closed and unwilling to take risks. I want to journey into the unknown and back rather than sit and wait for something better to come my way. After all the pilgrimage is the best part.
“The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.” – Thomas Merton