A wise friend reminds me that settled-in can be a noun or re-framed into a verb, settling in — to adjust to a new space or place, making familiar a new routine, or aligning with changed circumstances.
I am in the verb state of settling into a guest house in a rural township outside of Accra Ghana, a new school with students who greet me warmly but many of whose names I cannot pronounce, and foods that are exploratory rather than familiar.
This state of settling feels different from feeling “settled-in,” the noun state of familiarity and being on auto-pilot (at least for many daily activities). Only 6 months ago, I felt rather settled-in to a home I have lived in for 9 years in a veritable suburb of the capital of Texas in the American south.
What’s different? Everything from customs, accents and greetings to shopping, infrastructure, road composite and water sourcing. Yet as I notice that I am in the act of coming to know that which is currently different, and becoming familiar with what once was completely new activities, spaces and people, I find a sense of serenity and delight in all the many aspects of life that could hardly be classified yet as “settled-in.”
I feel a particular kinship with my “kid-friends” these days because they too are settling into new school years, a process that can take longer than simply putting one’s book into the desk. Two friends began kindergarten; one no longer has his big brothers at the elementary school with him; one moved by choice and two from necessity to public schools from private schools; one joined friends he really likes, while one doesn’t like the teacher he got; one began editorship at her school newspaper; and two begin college application processes soon.
Many people I know are in the verb state of settling in to new circumstances. I look forward to feeling more of the noun state, to feel settled in and familiar again; and yet re-framing helps me also appreciate the season of the verb state, adjusting and settling and learning new.
There is enormous creative potential in choosing active verbs.