Settling Down Without Settling

12:24 PM

At Solomon's Porch this week, the photographer who shot the amazing photos of Doug and Shelley's 25th anniversary party (pw: 25th) also covered a huge table with free books.

I looked over the table and one of the titles struck me: This Ordinary Adventure: Settling Down without Settling. The title itself is almost identical to goal #3!

3. Consider the balance and the difference between settling vs. contentment
Part of the reasons I'm writing about this (busy yet repetitive) time of life is that I think about it a lot and I suspect others are struggling with similar things. I'd like to tell the authors of this book how much I appreciate them sharing their transition into ordinary experiences in a book that found itself to me. I was worried that it would be cheesy but it is a very relatable back and forth account by a young couple who share their experiences of the transition from living directly meaningful lives abroad to living and working 'normal' jobs in the Midwest.

How they lived in countries with little/no income plus apparent student loans was not clear, because we are just reaching a point where we could consider a new adventure outside of working to pay off our debt, so the level I related to the book was a mini version of their experiences. For example: they lived and communed with people in a rural part of Nicaragua for a year, and we spent two weeks exploring the islands. We spent three days reconnecting with my host family in a tiny fishing village in Thailand this year and they lived in China for more than three years.

Yet even with these tiny glimpses of perspective we call our own, I related to so much of their struggles with staleness and routine back here. Simplicity seems impossible. Community is less engrained here. Individualism and productivity rule. We make money instead of time. To voice disinterest or concern with valuing these things even among Christian circles is sometimes met with annoying resistance or defense of the status quo. It's heartening to read stories from other passionate people that ground me - we're not crazy and in fact there's room in the future to be much more radical than we are now. As Joke once said, "I think it's funny when people think I'm too liberal. I think I'm not radical enough" (paraphrased from my memory).

The couple spent time creating patterns outside of the norms and here it all seems like too much and not enough. Too much money changing hands, not enough time to sit still in a day. Too much time being paid to sit in front of a computer idly, not enough time to move and explore, participate fully. 

Their conclusions mostly center around community and gratefulness, which are great reminders. I think I always knew that, but reading stories of others fighting to find community, peace, and gratefulness amidst the busy times of American life was helpful. They point out that these things are harder here and I feel more encouraged to rise up to the challenge. Inspired living will be easier in different places and phases of life that are more spirited. And those places and times will come along with a set of different challenges that we will face then.

Does anyone want to be the next inheritor of this book? Let me know.

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  1. I'm totally interested in inheriting that book! :) Also we haven't seen you guys in ages and that is sad, so we should just get together anyway.


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