When Transitions Get In Our Way

by Mike Pyatt

Mike Pyatt

On this revolving orb, no one escapes it. In varying degrees, we’re all subject to it. Some learn to embrace it, while others resist it vigorously. What’s it? Change. A part of the ebb and flow of life. From the natal to our final passing. Resistance’s futile like Don Quixote’s chivalrous tilting at windmills. Passing from one grade to another, though fraught with anxiety, most survive. Before we know it, we’ve graduated. From engagement to matrimony, one recalls the myriad of changes. From a single life to a new focus and adjustment. Once offsprings arrive, life’s never the same. Change is constantly afoot. That sortie into marital bliss, in retrospect, it’s best one didn’t know in advance how drastic change can be, the associated joy, and tribulation.

American writer, Agnes Allen, offers perspective on our subject, “Almost anything’s easier to get into than out of.” Matrimony for example. One wag suggested, tongue-in-cheek, “States and counties should exact a minimum of $10,000 ‘surcharge’ for marriages licenses.” The premise is we tend to value that for 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-betwixt time’s a challenge for dreamers, malcontents, and the rest of us. However, it’s part of the journey. Change is situational. One secures a new job, or lost one. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It’s how one feels about gain or loss. Before one can begin anew, one must end what used to be. Comedian, Woody Allen, once quipped regarding change, “I’m not afraid of death. It’s just that I don’t want to be there when it happens.” Transition and endings are inseparable. It precipitates change. One futurist wrote 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.

Extraction of four impacted teeth strikes terror in the heart of any sane person. The transitional period’s sitting in the chair-dreading that foreboding procedure. Or when Donald Trump’s supporters awaited for unfolding election results on November 8, 2016, in Midtown New York. What’s learned during that brief, yet seeming interminable, interlude? It’s the substance that can make us wiser and sagacious. G.K. Chesterton 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 moment. What appears to be a loss, setback, or disadvantage, may, after all, be entry points into a new realm, one never anticipated. For example, 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 transitional, life altering events. Not all of our choosing.

The journey from the old to the new is fraught with ambivalence. Most are relieved when change finally lands. The Old Testament journey of the Israelites is a tale of protracted, agonizing and perfidious transition. How did an eleven day journey turn into forty years? It was elongated by hard-hearted, stiff necked moaners. Little has changed about human nature. It’s essential one learns whatever lessons set before us in these epic moments. From the transitional to change-whether monumental or otherwise-it’s a phenomena before a new beginning. It may slice like a rapier, but eventually heal one’s soul. Percipiency trumps muddling.

It’s understandable 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. An old bromide states, ”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. Writer Jessamyn West captured that perspective, “Nothing is so dear as what you’re about to leave.” The past takes on a new fondness that’s often clouded by the fog of selective memory, confusing reality with the shadow of former. Release is 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 gain. A seed will only germinate if it dies.” Since our formative years, victory’s ingrained in us. “Resist loss, at all cost,” we’re admonished. How one occupies during “limbo” is crucial. Some pivot to a former state, rather than face uncertainty, when truthfully, that former allurement was often bitter, and we beguilingly adorn the past with the wardrobe of the present.

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

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

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