Being settled is not one of my top traits. I am restless at heart. I love the promise of adventure that lies in not knowing the future. I love the idea that tomorrow is unmapped, unknown.
I love Anne’s Tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it yet. As a child I would challenge myself to be perfect every day, but everyday I failed at that. I knew it the moment I would cry. Tears told me that I had disappointed someone or had been disappointed, and either of those meant I had made a mistake in action or expectation. Yet the joy of the future, that unknown thing, helped me wipe away remaining sadness, and I’d start my challenge all over again.
That was me at six. Before Anne. Before the entire life I have since lived.
At thirty-five, the future is less unmapped as it was then. Life pans out with each decision made. No longer will I wonder who my husband might be or what my home will look like. One of my most anticipated joys was the birth of each child. What eye color would they have? And hair, how much or little? Dimples, lashes, curls, all of it unknown and unfolding. So highly anticipated.
It is with no small effort that I contemplate the questions of settling on every matter. Settling on a place to live. Settling on a number of children to bear. I struggle to settle on the arrangement of furniture in my home, let alone the house that should hold it all.
When I am asked, how are you settling, I know why my answer unsettles others. I know this because it’s full of mixed messages. Yes, I love our home, our town, this life–all of it is a tremendous. But am I settled?
“We are happy,” I’ve said many times for now, I’ve added silently.
Yesterday I returned from a three-day trip out of town that jolted me out of my indecision over the settled question.
I might love the promise of a tomorrow with no mistakes, but something I realized I need are the five beds my kids sleep in and the digital clocks that keep them there until 7 am. Likewise eating breakfast in our home. And loading the just under half a dozen in the car in our garage, safe from dragonflies, humidity, sun, rain, and any other outdoor condition that might otherwise meet and delay us.
After only these few days being away from home, coming through that door to a home with many, many settled features was the most restful thing that could have happened all summer. What’s more, it helped me recognize that the real question I’ve been wrestling with hasn’t been am I settled, but am I ready to invest where I am.
Why I’ve wrestled with it is deeper than the superficial do I like things here question. Being settled has meant giving up an aspect of the unknown by saying here it is I will stop. For me personally, it means here is where I will stop looking for more and live my life.
It means I say I am content here. This is enough. These children are enough. This house is enough. This town, these people, etc. Things may change but here I stop and live. Here I spread my talent, interests, thoughts, endeavors, adventures and more RIGHT NOW. I can always keep looking for more, but I will miss it all if I don’t stop to live and be.
Resistance to being settled can stop, though the adventure certainly doesn’t have to.
Being settled doesn’t mean losing sight of the enigma and delight of an unknown future. Being settled allows a person a place of safety and security to be who they are in that unknown and quickly approaching tomorrow. I know that this house, town, friends may not be it for us, but they are all here for a reason, and after leaving it for less than a week, I can see that being settled is not only a good thing but something I need too.
I need stability in many other ways than I might have in my six-year-old-state. Yes, I still hope for a fresh tomorrow, but these days I dream and live far more often in today than ever before.
And it sure is nice to have settled exactly on where that is right now.