“Become major…Live like a hero. That’s what the classics teach us. Be a main character. Otherwise what is life for?” — J.M. Coetzee
I’ve been thinking a lot about transitions lately. My friends who are encountering detours and re-routes that they hadn’t anticipated. Bumps that feel like moguls on one of the Olympic ski runs. The kinds of change that can leave your posture skewed and your jaw clenched to the point of pain. Jo told me that she thought transitions were easier when we were younger. Perhaps. Perhaps we just weren’t aware of what part of our story we were in the middle of – innocence is a wonderful thing. But when you get a bit older, when the time comes that you realize that this is in fact the story line in which you are the focal character, perspective changes a bit. We spend so much of our life planning our next chapters – even when they don’t turn out the way we thought they would.
As a child, I remember feeling that I just couldn’t wait for life to start – I couldn’t wait to be able to ride with the experienced riders; couldn’t wait to be double digits. As a newly-minted teen, I couldn’t wait until I could wear Yardley’s cake eyeliner. Then I couldn’t wait until I was legal. Anticipation in my twenties – to be a mom, be seen as an adult (and be forgiven for transgressions that were a result of not knowing what I was doing as an adult), have my own home. The thirties brought confirmation that though I no longer had the excuse of being a novice grown-up, I had fertile years to dig into this life I was creating without boundaries or barriers. Perhaps in my forties it began to wear a little thin, but not so much so that my mind was reluctant to keep moving ahead, anticipating next steps with energy and spirit.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that looking forward no longer held the same thrill. And despite the gratitude (which accompanies most things for me), there lingers questions about legacy and lasting impressions, an awareness that looking forward diminishes the present and quite frankly, too much future-thinking just makes me anxious. I can write a chapter, but I’m not prepared for the story to end.
And perhaps that is why these transitions get so damn tricky. Our emotional muscles aren’t as supple; we have seen enough to hesitate – able now to determine the degree of difficulty associated with our next move.
There is a certain grace in such awareness though. To be able to be engaged with life and observe it simultaneously. Moving thoughtfully enough that you don’t miss a cardinal on a snow filled branch or the sound the wind makes right before it blows through your hair. Arriving at a point where you know what matters more often than not, and staying that course. Transitions may not get easier as we get older, the choices may change in scope and size, but we are each, still the author. And I for one, think my story is damn good.