Living in the Transition

I always love a good dance routine that utilizes transitions, not just to get from Point A to Point B, but as moments in which to carry the message of the routine. Rather than stopping–dancing–moving to a new place again, and then dancing again, the kinds of routines where seamlessly, the dancers just end up in a completely different formation before your very eyes–you have no idea that the transition is happening, because the transition is part OF the dance.

Of course, outside of dance, there are a plethora of other places transitions become important as well. In yoga, we are constantly transitioning between the postures, and if we miss the transition into the posture, we haven’t adequately set it up, and we may not be successful at the static hold of what comes next. If we are just dragging our foot through to Warrior I, then we are missing the moments in the set up–which are just as important as the posture itself. We are missing the core engagement, in which we will feel as we lift into the posture. We are missing the intention of stepping softly, as to engage muscles, and to limit our impact on external environment. We are missing stacking our knee over our ankle, spacing our feet hip’s width distance, pressing through the knife edge of our back foot. And, if we are sloppy in the transition, and we are not mindful in getting there, then when we get into the posture, we must fix things–our balance is wonky, the bend in our knees perhaps unsafe, our feet unstable.

And isn’t this true in our own lives? We transition between high school kid to college student, college graduate to working adult, single person to married, married people to married people with children to married people without children. These transitional stages take us to places in which we arrive in a moment–in a static position. In dance, in yoga, in life, we are always talking about being present in the moment–about situating ourselves, about turning off our ‘what’s next’, about paying attention to what’s in front of us–but being present suggests that we have already arrived to a space, and does not focus on the importance of moving through the transition in order to set up that space as well.

The transition into a space might be perhaps more character building than actually existing in the destination. When we are in a secure relationship, when we work a steady job, when we plant ourselves in a house, it is very easy for us to be present–because we anticipate no movement, because we can predict what is next, and so we can focus our energies on other things. This presence allows us to seek our hobbies, to give back to other people, to find contentment. But when we are moving between these spaces–when we are single and in between relationships, when our jobs wobble, when our living situations transition, and there is no stability, no predictability, and lots of uncertainty, it is much more difficult to be present (and to act perhaps ethically, morally, altruistically) because our attention must be divided.

So often, we are hurried to get to the next point of security–to jump into that relationship, so we are not uncomfortably single, to accept that job offer so that we are not in limbo, to rush into purchasing a house–that we fail to pay attention to how the transition is giving us very important tools to set up whatever that next stage might be. When we are in between relationships, we are allotted this once in a lifetime chance to travel where ever we want to go, to take up as much of the covers as we wish, to discover ourselves–that will all be important for when we do find a mate (then, we have the travel bug out of our system, we can appreciate a warm body next to us as night, and we can be solid in our own identities and choose more appropriate mates because we know ourselves better). When we break from one job and transition into another, we suddenly see new connections between things, and we discover that perhaps a company with flex time off IS more important to me than a company that has a really cool coffee machine. Maybe it is between this transition that we decide our previous occupation is NOT actually our passion, and we begin to make a new list of goals and start looking into certifications and programs. When we spend all that lengthy time looking for a house, and being in the unknown of when, where, how much, how long, we learn things about the house buying process–look for jagged cracks in the walls, make sure that there is a hook up for a washer/dryer, do your research on mortgage programs–that you never would have known had you rushed the process.

If we rush through the transition, because we are so eager to have arrived in a stable condition, then we have missed all of the things the transition was setting us up for–we miss picking up on and learning all of the things necessary to be successful in that condition. Perhaps the transition was setting us up for desiring humility and service in a significant other, and without acknowledging that in the transition, we never would have found those traits. Perhaps the transition was showing us the importance of strong leadership in a workplace, and had we not existed in that transition, we might not select the right job. Perhaps the transition was supposed to reveal to us the strength of our relationships–and the importance of relying on others–that we will definitely need later on down the road, when a more catastrophic and devastating transition occurs.

I’m inclined to argue that, while existing in the present is important, embracing the transition is just as, if not, more important–it teaches us faith, endurance, humility, perseverance. The movement between the points in our lives serve to set us up for whatever point we are intended to arrive at, and if we cut that transition short, because we are too eager, we are impatient, we are greedy, then I fear we will miss all of the important stuff the transition serves to set us up for. Embrace the transition just as much as you do the present. Exist in the messiness, the stickiness, the uncertainty, the existential crisis of it all.

“Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal in any way we want.” -Kristin Armstrong 

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