I am beginning to get a handle on this upcoming purple patch of change. I think…
In the next few months I will be leaving a twenty year career, moving from an office full of dynamic witty banterers to one of two furs that mostly sleep. My days will take on an as-yet-unknown rhythm. There will be a shift in the income I contribute, marking a significant change in the economics of our home. And we will be moving out of London, away from beloved friends and our favourite cafes and parks. We will no longer be tenants, but homeowners with a stake in our community. We are moving from very few responsibilities to many.
Usually when things are ending, I prefer to sneak off quietly without saying goodbye; I have left relationships, jobs, parties and countries thus. Its partly the awkwardness I imagine I will feel, and I’m probably telling myself a story that somehow equates endings with failure.
I am also a bit crap at being in the liminal nowhere of in-betweeness. I am impatient to do, to act. All that contemplation and naval gazing, that being, has always felt so bloody pointless when I could be getting on with it. The transitions in my life have always involved minimising the disorientation, and fast-forwarding through the reorientation.
And then Mum died and there was nothing to do but be in the muck of that ending. It took me years to realise that the only way through the loss was to feel it, and the only way to feel is to slow down and notice. We have to ‘be’ to feel. In the eleven years since, I have learnt (am learning) to honour endings.
I think every transition begins with an ending. We have to let go of the old thing before we can pick up the new – not just outwardly, but inwardly where we keep our connections to people and places that act as definitions of who we are. And the outward changes don’t say much about the often significant transitions that go on within us.
For me, the upcoming external shifts have been planned for and dreamed about, even called in over a cauldron (long story). The internal adjustments are way more ambiguous.
I am noticing moments of sadness at what I am letting go of: the familiarity and comfort of the known, the roles I play where I have a deep understanding of my place and what’s expected of me. I am trying to stay very present to the now: to not fall down the rabbit hole of ‘what ifs’.
And as fate would have it, my first uni assignment is a comparative study of two theories of change. Months ago, before we even knew where Berkshire actually was, I chose those that felt most interesting. I have found myself knee-deep in research studies about qualitative transformation. Basically: does the internal sense-making of external changes follow a pattern? And what are the implications of this for coaching? Ha!
So if like me, you are in this place of change, take comfort: this is all part of the alternating rhythm of expansion and contraction, change and stability. Its natural to feel unsure if you are going crazy or becoming enlightened; looking back we can usually see that the experience increased our independence, autonomy and growth. By going through transitions, we learn about ourselves and our edges.
Bridges, one of my favourite psychologists (who resembles a beardless Santa), proposes we ‘embrace the chaos – the primal state of pure energy to which each person must return for every true new beginning’. Yep.
Dear reader, has your experience of transition led to crazy and/or enlightenment?