Discovering Joy In Transition

On this terre firma no one escapes it. In varying degrees, we’re all subject to it. Some embrace it, while others resist vigorously. It’s change! Someone rightly observed, “The only person who truly looks forward to change’s a baby with a wet diaper.” Change is part of the ebb and flow of life. From the natal, to our final passing. Resistance’s reminiscent of Don Quixote’s chivalrous, impractical tilting at windmills. Passing from one grade to another in school, though fraught with anxiety, most survive it. Before we know it, we’ve graduated. From engagement to matrimony, one recalls the myriad of changes. From single life to a new focus and adjustment. Once off-springs arrive, life’s never the same. Change is constantly afoot. That sortie into marital bliss, in retrospect, it’s best we didn’t know in advance how drastic change can be, and the associated joy, and cost.

American writer, Agnes Allen, provides perspective to our subject, “Almost anything’s easier to get into than out of.” Matrimony and divorce, for example. One wag, suggested, tongue-in-cheek, “States and counties should exact a minimum of $10,000 ‘surcharge’ for marriage licenses.” Tending to value that which we‘ve paid the most, this could reduce subsequent outlay for divorce, attorney fees, property settlement. And heart-aches.

It isn’t change that ensnares us-it’s the transition. That in-between time’s a solace for dreamers, malcontents, and the rest of us. It’s part of the journey. Change is situational. We secure a new job, or lose one. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It’s how we feel about gain or loss. Before one can begin anew, one must end what used to be. American comedian, Woody Allen, once quipped, “I’m not afraid of death. It’s just that I don’t want to be there when it happens.”

Change and endings are inseparable. It precipitates transition, and transition commences with an ending. Our impulse is often, “Just get it over with, and bring the change.” Marilyn Ferguson, a “futurist,” encapsulated how many feel in that transitional phase, “It’s not so much that were afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s that place in between that we fear…It’s like being between trapezes. It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There’s nothing to hold onto.” A potentially daunting period.

Having four impacted teeth extracted, strikes terror in the heart of most sane people. The transitional period’s sitting in the chair dreading the procedure. What’s learned during that brief, yet seemingly interminable, interlude? “If I live through this, I’ll take better care of my teeth.”  C.K. Chesterton, British writer, observed, “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly understood. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly understood.” In one’s pilgrimage through life, one should view this transitional interlude, as yet another learning experience.

What appears to be a loss, setback, or disadvantage, may, after all, be entry points into a new realm, never anticipated. Yamaha turned the sagging market for grand pianos into a challenge to develop an electronic instrument that mimicked the sound and touch of the big piano perfectly. Our own history’s a montage of transformative, life altering events. Not all of our choosing.

The journey from the old to the new is fraught with ambivalence. Most are relieved when finally change arrives. The Old Testament journey of the Israelites was a protracted, agonizing and perfidious transition. How did an eleven day journey turn into forty years wandering? It was elongated by hard-hearted, stiff necked, complainers. Some things haven’t changed. It’s essential we learn whatever lessons set before us in these epoch moments. From the transitional to change-whether monumental or otherwise-it’s a phenomena before a new beginning. It slices like a rapier. Or may heal our soul. Percipiency trumps muddling.

It’s tempting to pivot to the past, wrongly branding it as “the good old days,” when in fact, those days may rest just over the horizon. Transition requires a measured time span, yet unknown. An American bromide observes, “The period from conception to birth, normally, takes nine months, no matter how many people you put on the job.” Maternity wards, and waiting rooms are havens for transitional people.

During the transitional phase, we’re prone to romanticize the past, or former situation as idyllic, when confronted with uncertainty. American writer, Jessamyn West captured that perspective, “Nothing is so dear as what you’re about to leave.” The past takes on a fondness that may be clouded by the fog of selective memory, confusing reality with desire. Perhaps we wouldn’t have relinquished the former for the future, had we our own way. Release’s part of the learning curve during our transitional encounter. Russian writer, Boris Pasternak, paraphrased a biblical principle, “In life it is more necessary to lose than to gain. A seed will only germinate if it dies.” Since our formative years, victory’s ingrained in us. “Resist loss,” we’re warned. How our time’s spent during “limbo” is crucial. Some pivot to a former state, rather than face uncertainty, though the former was partially disdainful.

Absent change, we’re destined to land in a rut. A rut’s a coffin with both ends kicked out. With advancing age, many seek a quieter, more predictable pace. In this life, the only constant’s change. Ogden Nash, American writer of humorous verse, wrote, “There is one fault I must find With the twentieth century, And I’ll put it in a couple of words: Too adventury. What I’d like would be some nice monotony, If anyone’s gotony.” Longing for stability in a rapid, unstable world’s understandable. God’s imbued in us a matchless human characteristic; enabling us to ride the rising tide of change-that ability to adjust and adapt. We’re not called to monotony. How does one prepare for the inevitability of change? During transition, there’s joy in the journey if we’re sedulous. The tortoise surely understood transition. Ultimately, it’s a matter of trusting Him who holds our future. What do you think?

Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County, Wyoming. His email’s roderickstj@yahoo.com

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