It’s either “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.” Settling into a new relationship, a new home, or any other new endeavor, eventually requires from us a strong, definitive, “yes.” We can’t be fully happy and say “maybe” at the same time. We fully embrace change or we suffer.
We can say, “no,” or “maybe.” We can say, “yes,” and change our mind. But to mine the richness of any experience, including financial setback, we have to consciously say, “yes.”
We love our new home in Wilton Manors.
But, not the first night. We had just arrived, after an evening flight from Plattsburgh, NY, and were trying to get settled into a house we had only been in for six days last spring. After we bought it in April, we went away for our annual six-month stay on a lake in the Adirondacks. “I’ll never get used to this bedroom,” I thought as I realized just how small it was, especially compared to our last home. It was clearly a step down. “No.”
And yet, the next night the bedroom seemed fine. “Maybe.” And, the night after that it was an amazing bedroom, and home, despite it being the smallest place we’ve ever owned. Ray and I now live on one level for the first time in forty-three years, and we have just two bedrooms. We expect that this is our last stop before we’re separated by death. And, it feels perfect. The house, the grounds, and the location are exactly right for where we are in our life cycle. “Yes!” “Yes!” “Yes!”
How can that be? When our fortunes changed dramatically because of an unpaid loan to friends, we chose to see the downsizing as liberation from not just debt, but from the responsibility of so many beautiful things. Ray and I take quite seriously our role as caretakers of the things in our possession.
We accept the responsibility we took when we purchased the fine art or antiques. Many of them had survived a couple of hundred years, or more, because they were well taken care of by those who had them in their possession. Now, a young nephew and niece have the responsibility. They’re excited. (Yes, they like “brown furniture.”) And, we’re excited for them
Settling into our ever-changing life, we find, is made easier when we let go of expectations, and choose our perspective. Whether something is painful or joyful is completely up to us. The last time Ray and I went to a couple’s counselor, we were told directly, “You expect too much of the relationship, and of each other. Do you have any idea of what you have together?” That was the last time we let the small stuff prompt thoughts of going separate ways.
I don’t ever recall having expectations of what my life would be like, and if I did, I had a very loose grip on those assumptions. I have been more of a responder to life than an initiator. Yes, I planned to succeed, but not materially or professionally. My successful career as an educator on LGBTQ Issues started when I was fired for being gay.
I said “yes” to being gay, “yes” to being very public, and “yes” to every invitation to write or speak. So, “settling in” has always been about acceptance, continually assenting to the opportunities for growth that come along. Those must include sorrowful experiences, too.
Lincoln could get hit by a car. Ray could slip and hit his head. I could get cancer. I don’t want any of those things to happen, but I have little control. If any of them happen, I either say “yes” to myself, to the Universe, to the realities of life, to God, or I suffer. I can say, “no,” but then I suffer as a victim of circumstances. There is no suffering in my life unless I create it. There is no joy unless I accept it. I settle in to my life as it happens, with a “yes.”