Birthday Retrospect : 2018 , Live a little before you settle down.
Before we married , my husband and I had a deal, not exactly a contractual agreement, but a sort of shared life motto so to say; of experiencing destinations and travelling widely, and working hard but enjoying the fruits of our labour , and to “LIVE “ a little before “SETTLING DOWN”.
How many of you have heard these lines ‘to live a little before settling down’? I am guessing a lot of you, especially in India we tend to say this a lot. Sometimes we say it to our parents, sometimes to our friends. We don’t want to commit to a relationship – because we want to explore all the possibilities and the probabilities of finding true romance before the fire is doused by ‘settling down ‘ in marriage. We don’t want to commit to a profession or a job, because we want to dabble in a number of things before we finally ‘settle down ‘to the mundane-ness of a 9-5.
Basically once you commit to something, the living part is lost. Living it UP and settling DOWN , are considered mutually exclusive experiences.
For most people, setlling down meant marriage and kids. But I think somewhere in my mind, I believed settling down meant being Financially tied down. Losing the freedom to make spontaneous decisions, is what settling down meant, and while I could still make spontaneous decisions married to a person ( and it would be fun to decide to go somewhere on the spur of the moment, like how I surprised him with a Kashmir trip), even post baby, we managed to fulfil our dreams of getting international fellowships ( it definitely wasn’t easy, and we did get help from family) and yet spontaneous splurges were a possibility.
But ,buying a house , for me was the surest sign of SETTLING DOWN. We bought a house this year.and I struggled with the decision in the beginning when we decided to buy a house.
Till then I had never had to pay EMI’s, and somehow because of the media deluge about experiencing things not owning them, I had bought into the Millenial motto of, “ Own experiences, not things.” For me a HOUSE was definitely a THING, and one we could have avoided, and spent our hard earned money earning EXPERIENCES not THINGs.
How many of you have heard of this line – “Want Happiness? Spend your money on experience, not thing.” Google it, it’s called the PARADOX of POSSESIONS. The study published in 2016 says that there are 3 reasons why you should not spend on possesions; one, that we get used to new possesions, and what was once shiny novel and new becomes the norm, second we keep raising the bar , so once we buy a fancy phone we are always looking for the annual upgraded model, and three there is always someone with a better one, a better car, a better phone, a better house.
But, experiences. Experiences, they become a part of you, they have the power to change you, your perspective, and become a part of your identity ( trekker, marathon runner) and also the fleeting memories are more valuable than actual objects.
But, we were going to spend our money on a THING , not an EXPERIENCE. Is what I kept thinking when we finally got around to buying our first home in April this year.
And then I realised, what a lot of sham it all was.
You could actually LIVE a little WHILE you were SETTLING DOWN.
You can actually EXPERIENCE while buying an OBJECT.
Like the experience of searching hundreds and thousands of furniture websites and comparing features and rates of everything from sofas to ceiling fans. The experience of us buying our first furniture , the reclaimed wood dining table. After we bought the dining table and chair, we decided to match the house to the dining table !
Planning the house and it’s interiors was the most creatively exhausting experience, so much so, that I stopped writing and cooking to the complete dedication to painting acrylic and watercolour paintings for our house. I wanted all the paintings in the house to be clustered and all made by me.
Even after the house was ready we continued to experience , and yes, I had planned a family holiday to Singapore this year, but we spent the money on ‘settling down’, but we continued to live it up in our new home.
In the last couple of months, I make it a point to have a meal, mostly breakfasts , enjoying the sea view from our balcony , I take my son splashing in the baby pool in the complex , and experience the sheer joy of playing crocodile in the water, before he outgrows the baby pool. I enjoy my Netflix, curled up in our new sofa, knowing that it won’t be new for long, and I am making memories, of experiences within my purchase.
Do you get it? Buying an object ( like a cycle, or a bike) may be materialistic, but the memories you make with the object, like teaching your son to cycle, or riding in the rains on your bike, those are experiences which get forever entangled in your purchased objects. Yes, a new model might come by, the neighbour might have a better one, but it’s up to us to enjoy both – the experiences and the objects. The memories attached to the object will forever be a part of you and change you, and yes, become your identity aswell.
This year, I had plans of spending the money on a foreign trip, but we bought a house instead. This is also the tenth year of me writing these birthday retrospects, and each year I re-read some of them, and I can immediately recall where I was sitting while I wrote them. The 25 year one, was sitting in my Hostel Balcony wondering if tomorrow will be a better day, the 31 year one was a me sitting at my parents dining table, me just a month old breastfeeding mom, and wondering if the night will be a peaceful one , and today I write my 34 year retrospect, sitting on my suede sofa, looking at my gorgeous coffee table ( what a rush it was to buy it on a spur-of-the-moment on an online sale) , realising that I have well and nearly settled down and still want to live a little.
Growing up, this year , has meant, understanding that settling down and living a little can coexist, and objects that money can buy, can coexist with priceless emotional experiences.
here are a few of my birthday retrospects down the years
Do share your own , live a little before you settle down moments!