Transition

BridgeI’ve just started reading Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges.

He tells us life is full of change. No surprises there.

I learnt early in life that you can’t stop things changing, no matter how hard you try. Sometimes it really is outside your control.

As a boy, I had to cope with being uprooted and transplanted from one place to another every few years, as my father made his way up the ladder from being a teacher in a one room schoolhouse to a Class 1 Principal – as far as you could go without leaving the schoolyard for the big glass office in Adelaide.

I learnt to let go and move on. I learnt you could start over and make new friends.

A lot of us struggle with change. I certainly witnessed a lot of my colleagues resisting changes I was championing in the various workplaces I played in over the years.

According to Bridges, change itself isn’t the problem. It’s our failure to embrace the transition process required to weather the changes we experience.

He describes that transition process as being one of three phases: an ending, a neutral zone, and a new beginning.

From what I’ve read so far, it appears we experience difficulties with change when we don’t process the ending, ignore or get stuck in the neutral phase, and either rush into or resist a new beginning.

I’ve recently undertaken a big change. I retired from my day job after 40 1 (8)years in the workplace. I thought I had it all worked out. I was certainly looking forward to not going into the city to work everyday, and I had something new to go to: full-time writing.

 

Then it happened. All that regimentation, associated with getting up and going to work, and then coming home and spending a couple of hours writing every night, evaporated. I found myself in no-man’s land – that dreaded neutral zone. I had to reinvent my day. I had to work out what being a full-time writer actually meant, now that I’d decided to be one.

I’m still working on the finer points, but I’ve discovered that four hours is about the limit for creative writing. That leaves me with plenty of time to do all those other things I promised myself I’d do when I retired. I’ve even spent some time in the garden, but I won’t be firing the gardener anytime soon.

Maybe I should be thanking my wife for suggesting I read the book.

Change of view

Last weekend I travelled to Burra – a two hour road trip from my place – to attend a significant birthday celebration in that restored railway station I wrote about in my last post.
imageI used to say to my wife that I could retire to a place like Burra, and she would always reply that she hoped I’d remember to send her a postcard.

It was pretty obvious my ‘city girl’ had no intention of retiring to a small country town ‘in-the-middle-of-nowhere’ – even if that’s where I’d come from.

If you are not familiar with population density figures for Australia, let me tell you there are lots of places with an ‘in-the-middle-of-nowhere’ feel. Australia is basically an empty continent, despite the fact that twenty-three million plus people live here – mostly in coastal cities.

When I drove into Burra last Saturday I knew something had changed – and it wasn’t Burra.

Maybe it’s all those trips to New York or travel to Europe. Whatever it is, I realised that Burra was no longer on my list of places to live in retirement.

Something has changed in my worldview.

It’s now obvious to me that there is no way I could go back to my small town country roots.

I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or not.

I just know that it’s no longer an option.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter

 

Transitions

Day_2_Night__Arvin61r58 Life is full of transitions. We are always moving from one thing to another or morphing from one state of being or doing to another. Every morning we transition from sleeping to waking, only to reverse it all again at night – and wouldn’t you love to know where we go when we’re sleeping? It all seems so vague to me after the morning transition back to wakefulness.

It’s not only the things around us that are changing. We seem to be changing as well. At least as far as form or appearance goes. The reflection I see in the mirror these days only bears a faint resemblance to the images captured on 35 mm film when I was a younger man, when digital photography was still hidden in some dream state. Ageing is another expression of transition, although, thankfully, it’s a slow motion experience for most of us. tempo passa Once, when we were warriors, we had initiation rites for significant transitions. Now we’re expected to just get on with it. The end result, in our modern world, is we tend to skate on the surface of life and ignore the deeper issues. We experience our transitions as anxieties and treat them with pills, instead of immersing ourselves into them as opportunities for personal growth.

Some transitions can be painful, like the one going from being married to being divorced – and not only for the couple but for all those around them. That’s one transition that a lot of us do not do well, because we don’t know how to let go in a loving way or we refuse to allow the other to grow when we want to stay the same or vice versa.

Another painful transition for some is moving through adolescence to young adulthood – and that one can be painful for all those around certain parties as well, and it’s not always the kids causing the pain.

Sometimes, when you’re in transition you’re aware that you’re leaving one way of being but you’re not quite aware of where you’re going or how you’re going to get there or what it’s going to be like when you do get there, wherever there is. I’m entering into one of those transitions now.

After forty years in the workforce, retirement is looming on the horizon and, in my part of the world, the very nature of retirement itself is changing. Once you got a gold watch, played a few rounds of golf, went on a trip and then died. Now, thanks to modern medicine, electricity, food abundance and retirement savings plans, some of us can look forward to twenty or thirty years or more of post workforce life.

For many of us, the idea of retirement is scary. If you have your identity wrapped up in what you do, you wonder who you will be when you stop doing it. If you’re in charge of a work team or a workplace, you wonder who you will be when you’re no longer in charge of anyone or anything. If your life is your work, you wonder what will be your life when the work part is gone.

This is one of those transitions you need to put some serious planning into, otherwise you risk waking up one morning with nothing to do, no-one to play with and sixteen hours to kill before you can transition back to sleeping. exploration

Illustrations from OpenClipArt.org

Thanks for dropping by, Peter.