Why should we never settle?
Walking down the stairs from our little flat to the communal garden I pass an old neighbour I haven’t seen in years. “Are you still here?!” is his greeting. “Should I not be still here?” says my internal dialogue.
"When does staying still or not making make a change equate to ‘settling’ and mediocrity and when is it simply contentment?"
As someone who has moved many, many times, in fact one for ever year of my life so far, I am only just myself learning the benefits of staying still for any length of time. When does staying still or not making make a change equate to ‘settling’ and mediocrity and when is it simply contentment? This is the question I continuously come back to.
The first thing most people ask when they learn of the title of our album is – why not settle? What’s wrong with settling? These words seem to invoke a strong reaction in many who perceive ‘never settle’ to be an attitude of discontent, grasping or restlessness but not settling doesn’t need to mean not appreciating or finding contentment where we are.
There is no denying that dreaming is a good thing, no one would wish for a life without dreams and imaginings but when does dreaming become grasping? How long is too long? When is it time to change? It is ever ok to never make a change? These are the subjects and questions that inspired the name of our album.
I found these words many years ago, a tattoo design I wanted to get by my dear friend, the endlessly talented tattoo artist Alessia Pedrosa. As soon as I saw it the words resonated, the image resonated. A family of movers, we moved all of the time as children, a habit that carried through to adult life and I would do it all again exactly the same way. We don’t now have friends that we have known since pre-school, we don’t have a family home or even a home town but our childhood was exciting, interesting, inspiring and mind opening. We had to learn to be flexible, resilient, to say goodbye, to embrace transience, to be so very grateful for everything we had whilst being ok with leaving it all behind. It therefore came as no surprise when my grandma uncovered our gypsy heritage. 4 years ago we chose this artwork for our then non-existent album but the topic remains as relevant to our lives now as it did then. This is an ageless subject and one of much debate.
Moving beyond its obvious geographical meaning, perhaps the meaning I hold most dear is that of never settling for anything less than your wildest dreams. Stagnation and settling are the death of the soul and we should never be made to feel that our wildest dreams are out of reach, unobtainable. Anything is possible. Anything at all. We should never be made to be feel that we are destined to forever tread the mediocre treadmill of life. There is almost always a way off, even if it means stopping dead in our tracks and being flung to the ground.
The difficult part is more often finding contentment and peace in the gap between stepping off and finding our way again, learning to strike the balance between dreaming and grasping. This gap can be straddled by remembering to remain grateful, non-complacent and in awe of the simple blessings in life such as health, food, shelter and warmth and to count our blessings daily. Never allowing ourselves to slip from dreaming into dissatisfaction.
"We all deserve to live out our wildest dreams but things can get complicated when we confuse these wildest dreams with material aspirations."
We all deserve to live out our wildest dreams but things can get complicated when we confuse these wildest dreams with material aspirations. It is so easy to be sold to and manipulated into thinking that our problems can be solved with money, power and expensive cars but these aren’t true heartfelt desires. These are desires driven by fear, greed and dissatisfaction, designed to make us forget the joys of simplicity, designed to plug the unnameable gap left behind by our previously wild and simple lives.
So perhaps our first step towards our wildest dreams is to ensure that they are actually ours, rather than something we have been sold or that we have inherited or something that seems easier to obtain than what we are truly calling out for.
On reflection to my neighbour’s question, right now our small urban flat existence suits us well. I may not have physically moved in four years but my dreams have grown small and simple to fit my tank and although my wildest dreams stretch further than these four small walls, these are the walls that have provided and continue to provide the path away from the treadmill of mediocrity. So as I sit here in gratitude in the space between no longer and not yet, my wildest dreams feel exciting, interesting, inspiring and mind opening, they give me reason to get up in the morning, they remind me of the important things in life. So for me this is why we must never settle and perhaps this feeling of being alive, inspired, excited and ready rather than disconnected, dissatisfied and disillusioned is the difference between dreaming and grasping?
So yes, I am still here and I will remain so until I can’t.
Edit: Since writing this we have suddenly found ourselves fulfilling one of our wildest dreams. Within weeks we were flung from the treadmill and I am writing this from our new home, a very rural mobile home! It is with mixed emotions that we left the little flat that we had made home but we continue to follow our hearts and live as fully as we can!