What to do after the transition

Oct 7, 2015

The boxes are unpacked.
The diploma awarded.
The laughter from the retirement party has faded away.

You are on the other side.

Now what?

We spend so much time, it seems to me, talking about transition: being in one, approaching one, or trying to avoid one, we perhaps don’t give much thought to after. It reminds me of being pregnant so many years ago and all the focus was on giving birth. One night, driving home from birth class, I turned to Chris and said, “But what do we do with the actual baby?”

Now I am living the after, on the other side of my own ginormous transition, I’m so aware that if I am not aware, here will become there.

That is sort of a Zen koan – be aware in the new here so it doesn’t become the old there. Whew!

But that isn’t completely true or even possible. Here, in Colorado, without a mom to care for, without kids in the house, without beloved in-laws to go to dinner with, without old friends to chat with at the mailbox, here can never be there.

Yet the pull to let my life take the same shape it was on Bainbridge is strong. That’s not a bad thing – there was much about my life there that I loved – but it’s not what I want now.

Here is what I am curious about: how, after a transition, do we actually build the new?

It can’t be through sheer willpower; that isn’t sustainable.
It might be through habits.
It certainly helps to have community – the Oasis helps me, as does my Brain Trust and friendships, new and old.

And there is something more I am sensing I need to practice, which is slowing down and listening closely to what feels true. I am noticing that when I hurry, the old way, the previous life, snaps into place without me even noticing, like a form lowering itself over me. The old way grabs me when I hurry, when I insist on doing, when I put more on my plate than I can accomplish while remaining curious and receptive to my new life.

On the other side of a big transition, I say you need spaciousness. You need curiosity. You need to float a bit, free from at least some of your plans. I’ll even warrant that if you push yourself into what you think your life should look like now, in the new place or space or relationship, you will miss what is actually here, in the new world, and what could become.

This is true, I think, whether you wanted your transition or dragged your feet, whether it comes laden with grief or girded with joy.

Here is what I know, a few weeks on the other side of my big transition: transitions are not automatic; that getting to the other side doesn’t mean you have finished, but rather it’s a signal to look up and sniff the air, take in the world, stop and let this sink in: this is my life now. Not what was. That is gone. This is now.

Me, I just want to be sure and keep lifting up my head and sniffing.



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