I had a nice conversation with my parents this weekend (as I usually do most weekends), and we kind of stumbled on to a nice little way to “package” an idea I’ve been throwing around for a little while, and which I’ve even written about here once or twice. It’s the idea that, really, there are three big parts of life that one uses to settle down in life, and they act in different ways and can influence one another slightly or drastically, depending on the order in which they are determine or the person who is “accomplishing” them.
location — If you want, you can let your location define a lot about you: you could pick your town/city and let life go from there. Many people do that. They either move to a new place or stay where they are and then look for their job, their church, their friends and other social outlets, their political cause, and so many other things based on where they are. And, in a way, a lot of who we are is defined by where we are. I have a much different outlook on life because I grew up in a town of 1200 people than I would have if I had grown up in the city or ‘burbs, and experience in the ‘burbs and city since then have expanded that outlook. Even seemingly inconsequential things, like my love for the Chicago Cubs, are, in a way, determined by one’s early location.
relation — The many and varied relationships one has also play an important part of who one is and can act as a cause of “settling” in a certain place or way. One might choose where they live based on their spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, family, friends, or a combination of all of these. If I decided it was most important to live close to certain family or friends, that would then define my location. I’ve stated before how important relationships are, and as I was graduating college, I was thinking/saying to myself, “I’ll let my wife be the impetus for where I end up (which, of course, was still when I thought I would be married by 25 or so, which I no longer believe to be true).” And while I have many strong relationships that I deeply treasure, I haven’t found that “life companion” yet to ground me in any specific way in terms of where I’ll live or things like that, so I turn to the last area on the list.
vocation — In many ways, this can be a way in which we all remain grounded as the years go by. For me, though, it still hasn’t happened, but it’s where I’m thinking I’ll put most of my efforts now for the time being. I know many young people who’ve decided to “put their career first,” which I think is great to do while you’re young. Many times one’s job dictates where you (and your family) may go or the kind of life you will live. As I continue to search for my vocation, I would have had no problem being grounded in relation, and if I didn’t feel that being grounded too much in location might restrict some of my possibilities for relation (I’ll try not to be too convoluted here), I might have picked a city/town by now. But as it is, I’m choosing to pursue my vocation, whatever that may be, and wherever that may take me, and let the other things fall into place.
Where are you on this journey? Being grounded in one, two, three, or none of these areas is possible no matter how old you are. My dad just made a career change a few years ago while remaining grounded in relation and location. A divorce may cause one to lose their grounding relation and possibly more. I’d say that the more one is grounded in, the more secure he or she feels, but sometimes it’s just the decision of what to pursue that allows one to feel comforted, too.
And while relations may not “ground” me, so to speak, they are definitely what give me the support and wherewithal to continue to pursue what life has in store.