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Bop Bah - This is the Sound of Settling

Updated on October 8, 2018

Bop bah bop bah – This is the sound of settling.

Bop bah bop bah!

One of my favorite bands is a band called Death Cab For Cutie. If you don’t give a frig about modern alternative/rock music then you may have never heard of them. A popular song that you usually get to hear at a concert is, “This is the Sound of Settling”. He's got a hunger turning his stomach into knots but still is singing about settling. Maybe he's just settling that is always going to be the way it is. I took it more to being "settled".

In the long term. I’m not really sure if I ever go “bop bah” but then I wonder if maybe now I continuously live there? In the world of economy and responsibility and as a provider for my family… I am not that settled. I’m in between jobs again actually. That isn’t settling.

When I was just a kid I had bullies to deal with. When I was 15 my father died. My childhood wasn’t all that “settled”. In my adult life I’ve gotten through college while having a kid a bit too early maybe, married, graduated, had another baby who was diagnosed with leukemia (now healthy!) and bought a house. Exactly in that order. This isn’t settling.

In 2009, I learned my mother was dying, lost my job, had my best friend go crazy and die while I was doing hospice with my mom and sisters – and she died, followed by our dog. Then I had about a year long awkward distancing conflict with both sisters when I could have used them the most and when they could’ve used me the most. This was going on while I was trying to get a job. My main first job had me working for 18 years for one company – since 2009, I’ve worked for several. In fact, even though I’m on “the bench” and getting paid – I am in-between assignments. This is not settling.

Or maybe… maybe conditions aren’t the definitions of being “settled”? I think even as a kid I realized that the world isn’t what happens to you. It is what you do with it. Does it break you? Does it make you stronger? Can you still see the glass is half full when your world is crumbling? I think the answer is… it is up to you.

I know this. When my mom was dying, I took it as a gift to be with her. I spent more time with her that last year than I had in all the visits for the 30ish years that passed since I moved out. Quality time. And we quickly learned to appreciate the day or the moment and not ruin today for what we worried about that was in the future. We knew the end was coming – that wasn’t the issue. How it would end was the worry. And a fair worry but useless. It serves no good to your today to worry about something that hasn’t happened yet. And although my mom stared Death in the face that last year – we all face it and we in general do not know when it will come. If we knew it was tomorrow, what would we do today? Why don’t we always live that way? What nonsense we could avoid.

Life is short they say… and I imagine that seems more true as you reach the end of it. But if that is the motivator to realize that each day is a precious gift then maybe that thought works for some. Each day IS a gift. Each day many people live their last day. Every now and then a day comes where we lose someone. This guru, I’ve taken a liking to puts it this way, “If you wake up isn’t it a good day? Millions of people did not wake up. And if you wake up just check around with those people who are close to you and see if they woke up as well. If they did… what a glorious day!”

It is hard to have a good day when bad things are happening. It is impossible for most of us to have a good day when someone we loves dies even though that person probably would never want to be the cause of our sorrow. It is impossible for most of us to have a good day if we are in pain or sick with disease. And yet, even then – it really isn’t beneficial to waste a day with negativity, despair and self-pity. It isn’t easy to be positive when things aren’t going your way but I don’t think it is helpful to yourself to be lost in negativity either. And for sure it is your choice. Life isn’t what happens to us, it is how we handle what happens to us. I truly believe that. My life experiences prove that.

It is a philosophy that works better in our day to day lives than at times of great stress for sure. But then, so many people make days unnecessarily stressful because they can’t let go of some past issue or they are too worked up about what may happen in the future. They miss this day – the one they are living with. The gift that perhaps we only know once. And if we are eternal and look back on our lives… won’t we want to look back with pride on how we faced the struggle full on and with our best effort? How even in times of great despair we were an example of how to handle a crisis? That is what I think in tough times. I’m alive and I have a chance to do something with the day… be it to get out of the situation that is harmful to me or to have another day to love and be loved by family and friends. To see another sunset,, to talk to your kid, to hear a bird or a car passing by… to be. To be is such an extraordinary occurrence – it would be a shame to squander it.

I’m not sure how long or how I came to this philosophy but it is reinforced by most people I listen to who seem to not be so pushed around by the outside world and instead have taken control and responsibility for how they feel about things and how they react to situations and how they treat others even in hard times. It’s just being positive can overcome so many things and being negative is just a guarantee of more misery. It is a tar pit trap.

The world is conflict. The world is full of so many sufferings… you don’t have to look far to see it. If you focus on just that it surely will take you down and will do nothing to help the situation at all. That is pointless. If we are to live, I believe we should live as happily as we can or at least how we want to live. If you want to be miserable then that is great – be miserable. But do it as a choice and not as a victim of your circumstances or because the world is as it is. Do something about it maybe? But know you control how you feel about things and how you react to things and don’t blame the outside world. You control yourself, it is really the only thing you truly control. So do that how you want to and know you are responsible for how you act and feel. At least accept that Truth. Don’t let something or someone else dictate how you feel.

I’d say initially, when I first thought about this “settling” concept – I thought that I never hear “Bop Bah – This is the sound of settling - Bop bah”. But when I really look at it and when I realize that I do seem to enjoy most every day – even the shitty ones, I guess I do hear it. All the time and everyday. It is more outlook than good fortune. Plenty of rich people are miserable. It isn’t circumstance that drives happiness, it is clarity of what Life is and what it isn’t. Granted, it is hard to be “glass half full” when times are hard but I generally come back to the realization that giving in to despair and wallowing in misery is rarely as helpful as being positive and making the most out of each situation.

Bop bah. Is that settled? Doubt it. But it is at least a perspective. Hopefully, a helpful one.


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