“One day, I do want to settle down,” someone may say, only to add, “Just not yet!” Settling down is a phrase that people frequently use when referring to one’s entering into marriage or family life. In fact, one of the definitions that Merriam-Webster gives for sett[ling] down is “to begin to live a quiet and steady life by getting a regular job, getting married, etc.” And while I appreciate Merriam-Webster’s role in providing definitions, I believe the term itself provides a great disservice for those who have “settled down” as well as for those who may be wondering when or if they want to “settle down”.
If “settling down” means being in a committed relationship with the love of one’s life and raising two beautiful children to both embrace and be a blessing to others, then I suppose I have in fact “settled down”. If stewarding one’s gifts and resources in a way that contributes to the welfare of not only one’s family but the good of the larger society, then yes, I have indeed “settled down.” But if living a “quiet” and “regular” life characterized by not trying new things, taking risks, or challenging oneself in fresh and different ways is what it means to be “settled down”, then no, I have not. In fact, if this is what it means to “settle down”, I wouldn’t want to wish it upon anybody. Unfortunately, it’s this last point that often gets associated with what it means to “settle down”.
By sharing a few recent pursuits and challenges in my own life, I hope to do my small part in helping debunk a myth that I feel contributes toward mundane, joyless, and less than invigorating marriages and family lives.
Yes, I’m married with two children and even own a Toyota Camry, but I also…
1. Entered a Short Story Contest
The topic of communication seems to most often be talked about within the context of how we can do it more effectively. Whether with spouses, children, or coworkers, effective communication is essential to thriving relationships. What doesn’t get talked about enough is the great blessing that communication is. Throughout the past few years, I’ve had a chance to see up close and personally what life looks like without the ability to communicate. (See my past post – Stroke of Inspiration) Whether it’s a traumatic head injury, stroke, or even the onset of ALS, the thought of not being able to communicate one’s thoughts, feelings, and needs, especially to loved ones, has haunted me as being one of the worst types of suffering one could ever go through.
In spite of my slightly introverted tendencies and occasional standoffishness, the reality of communication as a gift has moved me to leave as little unsaid as possible, especially as it comes to encouragements and affirmations for those most dear to my heart. It has even caused me to pursue more fully the craft of writing, another means of communications.
As one who’s worked in a religious, ministerial type context for nearly two decades, writing has been something that’s become a routine part of my everyday existence. From preparing messages, marketing events, to writing e-mails, it’s been something I’ve become somewhat proficient at. But it wasn’t until more recently that I decided to venture into the realm of creative writing, namely fiction. During this time, I’ve had the opportunity to saturate myself into the world of reading novels, studying the craft of creative writing, exploring the lives or writings, and writing snippets of whatever fiction I can when given the chance. I even took the opportunity to write and submit a short short story contest hosted by Writer’s Digest, not so much for the purposes of trying to win as having the opportunity to learn and grow. Oh, and I even started this most recent blog – MusingDad.com – from which you are reading this now.
Two of the many lessons I’ve learned about the craft of writing? One, its great appeal. There are many who wish to write regularly and even make a minimal living of it. Two, its great difficulty. Contrary to the popular conception that all one needs is a little inspiration, writing is mainly about daily discipline and hard work. In spite of experiencing this reality firsthand, I am again reminded that communication in all its forms is a gift. It also just happens to be something I enjoy doing and have the willingness to work at. If it turns out that I’m able to help others in the process, the long hours spend behind my keyboard will have been all the worthwhile. But even if not, what a gift it is to have the ability to write and communicate.
2. Signed up for a Marathon
Anxiety seems to be one of those few remaining words that have yet to teeter completely off the ledge of over-usage and loss of meaning. And yet, this is exactly what I’ve been experiencing after having signed up for my first marathon that is less than a month away. 26.2 miles?! I rarely drive 26.2 miles, let alone run it…or even walk it! For the record, I’m what you would refer to as a non-runner. I run when I play basketball, but beyond that, you’d more likely compare me to the over-sized weightlifter than the Olympic runner. And just in case you think I have the option of walking the whole thing, which I’m not planning to do, the race does have a time limit of seven hours, which still requires a pace slightly north of 15 minutes per mile over 26.2 miles.
So why in the world am I going to put myself through such a thing in spite of all the horror stories I’ve heard? Outside of the simple desire of training for and overcoming a difficult challenge, I recently suffered a muscle strain in my left leg that has kept me from playing basketball for nearly six months. To fill that emotional (those who know me understand) and cardiovascular void, I decided to incorporate running as a regular part of my life, at least for the time being. But if you’ve ever tried running for more than a few minutes, you quickly realize that it’s both really, really hard and really, really boring. To keep me motivated, I thought I would train for the marathon.
I’ve had a couple of setbacks in my training along the way, but even if not, I know I’ve not given myself the adequate time to train. Thus my goal of simply trying to survive and get to the finish line before closing time. Don’t get me wrong. Running definitely has its rewards. It’s therapeutic in a way that only those who have committed to it could understand. But whatever the rewards I reap along the way of this slightly insane process, I know one of the most heartfelt will be that I got to wear my sister-in-law’s (cancer victim) name across my bib during the race – “Team Joy”.
Help me debunk the misconceptions of “settling down” by sharing some new dreams, challenges, and growth opportunities you’ve been pursuing?