When we are ready to make a new beginning, we will shortly find an opportunityWilliam Bridges, Transitions
I am not sure what to think about this quote from Bridges. It is true that a great opportunity has come my way in terms of a new job. But as I look back over the past few months, the time has transpired far quicker than I expected. So, I ask myself will I really experience a new beginning in my life, or will I be repeating old patterns in a new context?
Coming out of the neutral zone
I wrote about the “neutral zone” in deconstructing it so far. It was my way of observing what was going on with me seven weeks after I left my full-time job. It is now about 20 weeks since I left that job. There I talked about the importance of pausing in the silence and being at peace even if it seemed that I was passing through a desert.
Going forward there will be a number of changes in my life, such as “working” part-time rather than full-time so I can focus on other important things.
But it’s what is happening inside me that I am most concerned about. Outward changes that do not lead to inner development are useless in the end.
In our modern, developed culture we do not seem to mark seasonal changes very well. I guess there are the obvious markers like birthdays and anniversaries.
But, living in a world where we are constantly “plugged in”, change becomes less obvious. We miss things that were perhaps more natural for people who lived in traditional cultures where you had rites of passage, multiple generations living in the same household or where you were more obviously dependent on the seasons and the elements for your livelihood. Sometimes, it seems like we just move from one day to the next without thinking things will ever change. I guess that is another reason why Covid-19 has been such a rude shock.
We can easily lose sight of how to learn from transitions or changes that occur in our lives. Bridges captures this when he says, “by treating ourselves like appliances that can be unplugged and plugged in again at will or cars that stop and start with the twist of a key, we have forgotten the importance of fallow time and winter and rests in music.”
Recurring themes and characters
If I am serious about my inner development, I need to ensure that I do not move mindlessly from one situation to the next or one period of my life to the next. This next stop or chapter in my life is no different.
So, how will I remain alert during this change of season? One thing that I will share here is that I need to be even more attuned to the repeating stories I tell myself, both about myself and others.
As I have reflected on the comments of some people who repeat similar complaints about their situation or people in their lives, I have become aware that there is usually a recurring theme in their minds. They assign roles to themselves and others in these stories. The roles can sometimes resemble characters from popular myths like “the villain”, “the rescuer”, “the confidant”, “the bigot” or the “problem child”. Changing situations does nothing to change the themes or these characters, even when people come and go from their lives. The characters just get replaced.
The important thing for me to note though, is that I am no exception. I tell similar stories with similar characters and recurring themes. And just like Jesus said, it is helpful when I see a splinter in someone else’s eye to make sure I take the log out of my own eye!
So, coming back to my original question, will I be repeating old patterns in a new context? Well, it all comes down to assessing which of those are healthy and which are not. My challenge will be to deal with the unhealthy ones.
Here goes to the next stop on the way!