The “reality’ that is left behind in all endings is not just a picture on the wall. It is a sense of which way is up and which way is down; it is a sense of which way is forward and which way is back. It is, in short, a way of orienting oneself and of moving forward into the future. In the old passage rituals, the one in transition would often be taken into unfamiliar territory, beyond the bounds of former experience, and left there for a time. All the customary signs of location would be gone, and the only remaining source of orientation would be the heavens. In such a setting and the state of mind it was meant to create, you would be (in the word’s of Robert Frost) “lost enough to find yourself.”

As with other aspects of the ending process, most of us already know disorientation. We recognize the lost, confused, don’t-know-where-I-am felling that deepens as we become disengaged, disidentified and disenchanted. The old sense of life as “going somewhere” breaks down, and we feel like shipwrecked sailors.

William Bridges, Transitions

The Neutral Zone

Anyone who has ever remodeled a house knows a good deal about personal transitions because such an undertaking replicates the three-part transition process. It starts by making an ending and destroying what used to be. Then there is the time when it isn’t the old way any more, but not yet the new way, either. Some dismantling is still going on, but so is some new building. It is very confusing time, and it is a good idea to have made temporary arrangements for dealing with this interim (“neutral zone”) state of affairs--whether it is temporary housing or a time of modified activities and reduced expectations to make the old housing work. And as the contractors always warn you, remodeling always takes more time and money than new construction. Good advice in regard to transition, too.

William Bridges, Transitions

Time to stop looking for signals and start acting

The more information we sift through, the more nuggets of truth we are likely to uncover. But this also means we raise the level of noise that we must cut through in order to find those nuggets. We don’t do a very good job of regulating our intake of information. In our hunt for certainty we assume more is better. We consume a ton of noise to gain an added ounce of signal. Picking a  time to stop gathering and start acting is critical to avoid paralysis and stagnation.

Stephen Goforth