And this is how this series on transitions ends, just as the transition from the Neutral Zone to New Beginnings ends, not with a bang but with a gradual sense of clarity.
If the Neutral Zone is a swamp, you leave it as you leave a swamp. Not through the exit door, because there isn’t one, but by walking until you get to the point where you realize things have shifted.
The reeds aren’t as tall, aren’t as thick. The muck beneath your feet is firming. You walk and walk and at some point, you pause and realize the reeds are gone and what you are standing on is solid earth.
The Swamp is behind you.
I had a friend who was dealing with severe depression. We met one day and she announced, “It’s over! I’m out of it!” I looked at her too-bright eyes, her stretched smile, and said, “I don’t think so.”
She pressed, “But I feel Great!”
“Maybe,” I said. “Maybe you do today, but maybe not tomorrow. At least, that isn’t how it worked for me, there wasn’t one day when the switch flipped.”
She looked at me, not liking what I was saying, but listening.
I continued. “It was more like one day I realized that I felt pretty good and that I had felt pretty good the day before, and even the day before that.”
Coming out of the Neutral Zone of transitions is similar—it’s gradual.
It’s also like a freeway interchange, if the freeway interchange ran through a swamp. That’s an odd image, so let me explain.
Most of life is like driving on a freeway. You’ve zooming along, not paying all that much attention to your driving. You’ve got music on, you’re thinking about something other than the road.
Then, you approach an interchange. If you’re heading from Cincinnati to Chicago on I-74, when you get close to Indianapolis, you’ve got to make sure you pick up I-465, then I-865, then I-65. If you don’t get all those transitions right, you could find yourself on the way to Terre Haute or Danville or Fort Wayne. (This is why I can’t listen to novels when I drive).
You have to pay attention during transitions. You have to make sure you are listening to your GPS.
Freeway interchanges—and life transitions—take a lot of energy. But then, you’re through it, and speeding along to your next destination.
A few weeks ago I met with a friend who had also gone through a major life transition—she had left her big-league career to become an entrepreneur.
We talked about her new business venture and the fact that we both had made significant changes. Then she said something like, “It looked really big before I did it but in hindsight, it wasn’t that big a deal.”
I agreed. I feel the same way about my transition. In the fall of 2018 and the first part of 2019, it looked like a really big deal.
But in hindsight? Not so much.
Chewing the Cud of Good
I know I put photos of clouds in here often, but I love them. I love to sit on my balcony, feel the heat coming off the building as the air cools, watch the sky change with the sinking sun. It is one of my most favorite things.