this is when we are most completely alive

It is when we are in transition that we are most completely alive. I have often asked groups of individuals that I am working with to introduce themselves, one to another, referring only to those things that are not changing in their lives.

The results is a soft murmur of voices talking about where they live and how many children they have and what kind of work they do. After everyone has had a few minutes of that, I ask them to reintroduce themselves to each other, speaking this time only of the things that are changing in their lives.

There is usually a moment of nervous laughter, then a little pause, then there is a wave of talk about the gains and losses that they are experiencing. Before a minute has passed, voices are rising and falling. Intonations are full of energy. There is laughter. Hands are moving in gesture.

Without fail, the second introduction is far more alive than the first—even though it is by what is not changing in our lives that we customarily define ourselves or are defined by the academics who want to describe us in terms of the categories we fall into.

If you asked the people who had done the two introductions, most of them would say that they are tied of things changing all the time and that they wish that their lives would settle down. Yet it is when they talk about all the changes that they are most animated and energized.

Actually, it is not the fact of being in transition that most people mind, but rather that they cannot place their experience of being in transition within any larger, meaningful context.

William Bridges, The Way of Transitions