“I’m so much older than I thought I’d be,” cries unhappy wife and mother, Emily Weaver in Crazy, Stupid Love, and I have to admit that I laughed out loud at the line’s illogical logic.
I’m so much older than I thought I’d be.
Just five years ago, my youth seemed to spread before me with indifferent forever-ness. My youth was a fact. It felt consumable and yet, infinite.
And I know, I know, age is an attitude. You’re only as old as you feel, but despite myself or my best laid plans, certain experiences are befalling me–I am passing through certain social rites, and many of my forever young friends (all those wild Peter Pans) seem to be doing similar.
Shall I list them? Marriage, kids, houses, settling. My husband and I find ourselves redistributing our money. Instead of coffee, cigarettes, and art supplies, we buy diapers, cereal, and car parts.
Settling. It’s a nice word. Inevitable, but comfortable. But what about when it’s loss?
You can settle softly, like a feather to the ground. The word can be a nestling, a nesting, a getting comfortable.
But it can also mean loss–a decisive surrendering to a less-than-ideal.
The former is light in my mouth. When I say it, the stress falls on the first syllable. It tickles my tongue. SEttle.
The latter, this locked-into-less settle drags on. It lands with a thud. SetTLE
In a recent match of Words With Friends (My IPhone Scrabble) an old friend (the kind of defiant and spirited person you eventually spin myths about) played the word AGING, and it felt so sad, so sad to associate with the word in anyway.
And yet, it’s inevitable–aging. It’s truth, so why does my aging sometimes feel like settling–and I mean in a bad way–the way that feels like loss?
The coin is a beloved symbol in Buddhist thought. You cannot pick up the heads without the tail. One cannot exist without the other.
And perhaps the meeting of these differing concepts in one word (settle) is more than just accident.
Settle–the relaxing, the getting comfortable (I am so much more comfortable), but in this process of decision, selection, staying put (in one way or another) you have to say “no.” You have to sacrifice. You have to “settle” (for some things, sometimes.)
They don’t prepare you for this settle, though. They tell you all your dreams will come true–but the truth is, some just don’t.
And maybe there’s always going to be settling in settling. You can’t have one without the other. Right?
And yet (and yet and yet) there’s an art to insisting. The trick–I’ve yet to learn, is when to insist and when to allow. When to get out of the way and accept, and when to take a break from settling to fly. Because settling seems like something you do again and again, over and over. Is it obvious, I haven’t settled when it comes to the word settle? And perhaps, therein lies the word’s genius.