I am once again going to draw off of my night in New York as inspiration for my blog post today. In the wee hours of Saturday morning, probably around 230 AM, my friend asked me if I thought I had "settled down". Coming from any other person, I wouldn't have given the question much thought and simply responded yes, I have settled down. However, being a good friend of mine who often engages me in a philosophical discussion, I knew that I couldn't just give a simple answer because the question, when you think about it, isn't that simple. When looking at the definition of "settle", you will find that there are a slew of definitions that cover everything from sediment drifting to the bottom of water to getting revenge to the more apt definitions of "accept despite lack of complete satisfaction" or "become established and stable in one's residence or life style". These last two are what I drew off of when formulating my answer for my friend. To start off my response, I first stated that it all depends on how you wish to define "settled down". For myself, I would have to say that the second definition of "becoming established and stable in one's residence of life style" more aptly describes my form of settling down than the first. I would have to say that I have not accepted life despite any lack of complete satisfaction. What's more, I couldn't be happier. Have there been times in my life when I have settled for less than what I am completely satisfied with? Yes, but I knew that my friend didn't mean over my whole lifetime, but rather in terms of where we currently are in our life situation.
I know why he asked me if I feel I had settled down. It is because he is always re-evaluating his own situation and perhaps is uncertain right now if he has made all the "right" decisions and picked the best route possible for his life. I feel that he wanted me to say that, yes, I had settled for less than the best. However, I feel that it is more complicated than just saying yes or no. In fact, I feel that if anyone ever feels that they have accepted life despite complete satisfaction, then they have no one to blame but themselves. Whats more, in order to get to the point in life where we are now, we have to go through countless decisions, the outcome of which we will never know till we get there. All we can do is make the best decision for ourselves based upon our current situation and follow through with it. If we end up in a place that we are not necessarily fond of due to our decision, then we have the option to then change course and bring our life to a place where we can be wholly satisfied with it. If we, however, simply keep on living out our decision even if we are not happy, then that is when we have "settled" for less than what we are capable of and in turn less than what we will ultimately be satisfied with. I asked my friend if he is happy with his current life situation and he said yes. My response was that in a sense he had settled down, but not necessarily settled. I also told him that settling down is not necessarily a permanent action in my mind. We may settle down for a time, sometimes for a long time, but that never means we are cemented where we are. At any one point, if we are not satisfied, we can pick up, change gears, and re-invent our lives.
Some people would say that there is only one true path to happiness for every person. I would flat out disagree with that and say that what makes someone happy changes depending on where they are in their lives. Even there is one general path that may make us happier than others, that one path has many options that can increase or decrease our happiness depending on the choices we make. In my mind, if we accept less than what we are completely satisfied with, then we are doing ourselves a disservice. There is no reason that anyone has to settle for less than the best. Is achieving the best (as dictated by what will make us happiest) always easy? No, but everyone has it within themselves to attain the best. So at the end of my conversation with my friend, I think I left him with more to think about than an actual answer. He did say that he couldn't disagree with anything I said (which coming from him is a miracle) and I think that he will figure out whether he has "settled down" or "settled" eventually. For people in their late twenties/early thirties, I think that this question of "settling" is especially pertinent. At this age, a lot of people are starting families, buying houses, establishing careers and all of that brings to mind questions of whether or not we followed the correct path for us and if we are "settling" or "settling down". The answer is obviously different for everyone, but speaking for myself, I can say that I have "settled down" and am happy. Does that mean things won't change? Absolutely not, but for now, I feel I have established myself, my family, and our life styles.