Settling Down or Settling In
August 22nd 2022: Is life finishing or just getting started?
Today our furniture arrives in our new apartment. It was collected from our old house several weeks ago, life has been a little unsettling without it. We have, though, actually enjoyed being in a state of flux, a state of uncertainty. Tony Robbins talks about uncertainty being normal and even quite exciting. If it is handled properly it can be stimulating and powerful.
Once the furniture has arrived and we have finally organised the apartment it will be time to fully settle in. If you have ever watched a dog going round and round as he settles into a cushion or bed you will know what settling in feels like. It is about making the place your own, putting your stamp on it. We look forward to that.
‘Settle down!’ she thought. ‘Yes, settle down into dreariness and quietness and forgetfulness and boredom.’
Iris Murdoch, The Nice and the Good
Settling down is completely different from settling in. Settling down is akin to giving up, reaching the end, and deciding that that is it. It embraces the idea that there is nowhere left to go, nothing left to do. It feels like approaching the end.
Many people see retirement like that, they have finished their working life and have settled down to an empty life stretching before them. In settling down they let go of what life means to them. This is not the kind of letting go that opens up the future, that gets rid of the hangups and worries that plague people, but the kind of letting go that sees nothing in the long road lying ahead.
Iris Murdoch talks about dreariness and boredom, the image is quite horrific to me, one that I would always run away from.
I don’t settle down. I don’t follow any path. Because I am the wanderer and wandering is my destiny!
So why am I so keen to settle in to my new apartment? What is the difference contained in changing ‘down’ to ‘in’?
I love Avijeet Das’s idea of being a wanderer and it being one’s destiny. There is a restlessness about wandering a restlessness that is enticing, even exciting. For me wandering, while being restless, is not aimless. There is a sense of moving out from a core to explore and see what is around. That is the essence of life, the exploration of an ever-widening circle of existence.
I remember when I was young I used to go out riding my bicycle. At first I rode locally and then, as my confidence grew, I went further afield. There was a long main road near my parents' house , I remember exploring it and getting to the end of it to a different locality in the town. It was exciting and unsettling as well.
Since then over many decades I have continued my explorations, geographical and psychological. I have travelled all over the world for pleasure and for work and I have always found it exciting, even when it was scary. There has always been somewhere new to go, something new to discover.
I want to sleep. To find a safe place somewhere, and close my eyes, and rest, like an animal. That is what I am, an animal. Living from moment to moment, day to day, trying to make sense of the world in which I find myself.
Like a dog I have constantly circled around and found my core. My core has been that part of me that I know and can trust. It is always expanding, always growing, always developing. But my core has a place where it can be settled. The place changes as I change but it is always there. It is a home base that I know and can trust, a place where I can feel myself and know I am safe.
That place of safety is essential to a life of wandering, it enables the circle of wandering to get larger without losing its core.
Settling in is about moving to a new place, a new geographical core and making it safe. It is the opposite of settling down, it is the start of something new.
If you know what you’re looking for, that’s all you’ll get—what’s previously known. But when you’re open to what’s possible, you get something new—that’s creativity.
Ahh… creativity, now that’s exciting, something worth wandering for.