TransitionPassage from one stage, place, stage, or subject to another—so states the dictionary definition—words that describe movement, but that say nothing of substance and the depth of human feeling...
Passage from one stage, place, stage, or subject to another—so states the dictionary definition—words that describe movement, but that say nothing of substance and the depth of human feeling. Nothing of nights spent tossing and turning, when craving sleep we lie awake, fighting our personal demons and feelings of failure. Or, terror resulting in knotted stomachs, shallow breathing, and the desire to remain in our comfort zone or to run far away. Neither does it tell of moments of quiet contemplation, contentment, and joy, feelings of accomplishment, even ecstasy and the delight change can offer. Transitions, be they small or large are rarely finite. With revisionist minds, we place timeframes around the experience. Perhaps we use a ritual such as a birth, wedding, illness, death, birthday, graduation, or a new newspaper editor to define these significant phases. I think, these transitions, life's ever in process changes, most often have ragged edges that bleed beyond our neatly bound boxes, starting before we are aware and morphing into the next process we call change.
Sometimes change is thrust upon us. Sometimes, it is cultivated by choice. But, almost always, it requires courage. Courage, I think, necessitates accepting the journey as a challenging adventure that will pull some new knowledge, fresh wonderment, or innovative direction from us. We human beings, such creatures of habit, so rarely stay put. Much as the boomerang in Kubric's 2001 was tossed into the beyond; we too, often fling ourselves into the unknown.
As I age, I often think these kinds of thoughts. “Aging is no accident. It is necessary to the human condition, intended by the soul. I think, perhaps to learn more about the integration of character and about love and the essence of relationships. Eros, of Greek mythology, was the youngest of the gods, but also the eldest. Love (and sex) from the ancient point of view, a view that I agree with, is ever changing requiring new learning every step of the way.
Along with most people I know, I have always had a life of transition, some sought and embraced, some thrust upon me kicking and screaming. And, with my particular flaws and skills, I have played my cards as they have been dealt. Once again, I have a new deck. The cards of course are familiar, for my character has not changed. I move with my current transition slowly, saying “good-bye” to what once was the comfort zone of my profession, children and grandchildren and now, bump along a rocky landscape of writing columns and books,(the current book is Getting Sane Without Going Crazy) speaking to organizations and using the media and the web to reach, and hopefully, to help, more people.
It is a passage of choice related to my age, to challenges long sought, to childhood reams that were unfulfilled, to knowledge gained. Still, when I analyze my own dynamics, I realize that there are ways that I don't know more about all the complex reasons for my own choices than those I am privileged to treat. Or, the meanings made, the life landscapes I design, keep changing from different views.
Recently, a member of a group that I was leading reassuringly tried to comfort a fellow group member who was suffering panic attacks and nightmares as she transitioned out of a long term but unsatisfying marriage to a life that at least temporarily was without a mate. Lovingly, he told her that she didn't have to move in the direction that was causing her such pain. She looked at him a long time and gently said, “No, you are wrong, I can't explain all the reasons why, why, but I must do this. You have to understand, much as I am in upheaval, it is my next step.” I listened quietly and I and the others in that room understood.
Dr. Dorree Lynn is co-founder of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Psychotherapy and a practicing clinician in New York and Washington, DC. Dr. Lynn served on the executive board of the American Academy of Psychotherapists and she is on the editorial board of their publication, Voices. She is also a regular columnist for the Washington, DC newspaper, The Georgetowner. Dr. Lynn is a noted speaker and well known on the lecture circuit.