Who are you? said the Caterpillar… “I-I hardly know, Sir, just at present,” Alice replied rather shyly, “at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then.” – Lewis Carroll Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Such leads the first chapter in the book that is currently serving as my lifeboat through these “weepy weeks.” Aptly named Transitions, Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges, it is the manna from heaven, fallen to feed my tossed about spirit.
“The Weepy Weeks” is the name given by my daughter to these last two weeks of school. While admittedly ready to leave the small, thoughtful school she has been in for most of her young life, she is also comfortable and clinging to the known. Next year she heads to a large, inner city urban high school. From 15 in her 8th grade graduating class to a Freshman class of 650, the unknown looms on the streets of the city. Exciting and Scary. For both of us.
Sounds familiar for many of us, in different ways, at different times in our lives. That’s because one of the things we can all count on is that at some point, we will be in “transition.” Jobs change, bosses change, births/deaths/ moving houses/cities, aging, illness, etc. happen to all of us.
I can’t tell you the relief I felt when I remembered this phrase, for I could not figure out what was wrong with me. I was so out of my skin and my girlfriend, who always puts things in perspective, said that she and her husband are calling it “crying over chicken salad.” That is how arbitrary and often her tears seemed to flow.
But Bridges reminds us that our tears and confusion are neither arbitrary nor unusual. They are actually part of the three stages of any transition: Endings, The Neutral Zone and The New Beginning. We are clearly in the Ending phase and “yet how we recognize endings is the key to how we can begin anew.”
The book is elegantly simple yet profoundly insightful. It is actually a quick and helpful read. You will not only be the better for having read it, you will be able to recognize old ways of being and develop new ways of seeing. In your heart you’ll realize that chicken salad can be made 15 ways to Sunday and that you can make the most out of any way it’s made.
Is there something you have used to help you navigate change? Let us know!