There’s a little ball of stress knotted up in my stomache this morning. It doesn’t feel huge or insurmountable, but it’s big enough that a vigorous bike ride on a glorious fall morning didn’t manage to untie it.
It’s not hard to find sources of stress in my life. This is my last week of work in this employment. Tomorrow is my father-in-law’s funeral. And today would be my son Matthew’s tenth birthday, had he lived past birth. It’s a big, messy week.
On top of that, I’m stressing out about a few tasks that need to be completed soon but are feeling a little insurmountable right now. A new website that I was hoping to launch before leaving work, a curriculum for the course I’ll be teaching in November, a couple of reports that my boss wants me to complete before I leave, transition planning for my staff, cleaning out my office – the list feels a little endless.
Unfortunately, overwhelm tends to come hand-in-hand with inertia, so I’m stuck in a place where all I want to do is wander around cyber space, or sit by a river somewhere watching the geese fly south.
September seems to be a month of transitions in our family. Deaths, job changes, going back to school, moving – almost every year something new shows up in September. This year we got an extra dose.
Part of me just wants to be selfish and go off on my own somewhere for a time of “dream-shifting” or “vision-questing”, but life needs to carry on. There are family members who need to be supported through this loss, children who need to be fed, bills that need to be paid, etc., etc.
I am struck by what William Bridges says about transitions. He talks about how, in other times and places, people in transition went out into an unfamiliar stretch of forest or desert where they would reman for a time, removed from the old connections. He calls it “The Neutral Zone” and says that one of the difficulties of being in transition in the modern world is that we have lost our appreciation for the gap in the continuity of existence.
What he says resonates for me this month. We don’t really know how to transition gently. We rush into big changes and expect our hearts and bodies to keep up. As Bridges says, we treat transitions as a “street-crossing”, just trying to rush to the other side of the street to avoid getting hit by a car.
I’m not sure where I’ll find the space for a decent transition (I’ve accepted contracts that mean I’ll have to jump into new work right away), but I am at least aware that I need it and will make a point of finding it. Perhaps it will be in October when I go away for a few days to a retreat/workshop with a woman I’ve dreamed of studying with for a long time. Until then, I carry on and try to take deep breaths and go for bike rides when I can..