Nothing is more permanent than the temporary.
– Greek proverb
Halfway across Europe, I asked an impulsive question: what if we did not go home? What if my best friend and I turned this piece of Hellenic wisdom into practice, by turning our own hand-to-mouth travel existence into more than a four week trip? Into Real Life?
“Nothing is more permanent . . .”
The sentence scribbled down eight years ago is nearly as well-worn as the diary in which I wrote it. I, too, have visually aged: stark crow’s toes from laughing in the southern sun and new scars from giving birth to my first child.
Still the fervent nomad; but suddenly – or, at least it feels sudden – the frantic journeys of yore now appear stressed and tiring.
I’m not alone. All my closest international companions sit confusedly on the border of 30, too old for hostel dorms but not old enough to trade in a backpack for a suitcase.
So I’m asking another impulsive question: when is it time to settle down? When should we open up to a new form of temporary permanence? And how will we know where that should be?
Once again, my friends’ wisdom may help us all through this crossroads:
Definitions – Before hackles ripple over your neck, exhale and ask yourself what the word ‘settled’ means. Your answer is different from all others – so figure out what makes it distinctive. Does it include a home you own or just a roof anywhere? Does it fit within a limited time frame or is it open-ended? What value do you give to this oh so un-settling word?
. . . settle down but not out . . . I feel like if I truly settle down, it’s going to happen without me consciously deciding to. – April
Daydreams – As you consider the definition of ‘settled’, what uninvited daydreams sneak in? This is what ‘settled’ could look like: not a black and white sketch but a hazy vision of the positive things you imagine when you let your mind wander to that more permanent place. (I always pictured myself with overflowing bookshelves, a tattoo and a tea kettle). Whatever they are, hold on to these little reaffirming details.
I think ‘settling down’ means different things to different people. I believe the first thing you need to do is figure out what ‘settled down’ is to you, and then figure out when its right to do it. – Allison
Places – Our definitions and daydreams of stationary life are often tied to a particular place: a home, a city, a country, a person. Where do you live in your potential future? If you could plant roots in any one spot on a map, where would it be? Begin digging around the ‘why’ of this destination and be ready to consider the more serious, heartfelt reasons that lie beneath the surface.
. . . settling down to me is something about acceptance of who I am, gifted by God, loving and being loved, relationships and being content with all that the day holds. – Theresa
Fears – Accept that life itself is part of the journey, and you will never fear what happens when you make a pit stop. Are you scared only negative things can come from settling down? Do you worry about what changes or challenges will arise?
Do you. Do what’s best for you and your family and it will all work itself out. Just keep following that heart, and it will all be right decisions. – Sarah
Maybe its a question without a correct response. Or maybe this is all a woman’s attempt to compartmentalize and over-analyze. Maybe, as my Uncle Keith suggests, the minute you ask “When is it time to settle down,” then you’ve already answered the question . . .
How do you know when it’s time to settle down?
“…hold on to those little reaffirming details,” is lovely advice that transcends your quandary here. When I was young I thought that settling down would be a loss; now I am at a loss to imagine my life otherwise. With God and family, life is brimming. Periodic travel is refreshing and helps to keep all in balance. Congratulations on your beautiful family! 🙂
Well said! Balance is the key, though it’s easily forgotten if we tip too much in any one direction. Thanks for the kind words, and the written example of a ‘settled’ life full of contentment.
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