I threw on a jean jacket as I headed out the door for my morning walk, but soon I removed it. Underneath the early morning coolness, I could feel warmer temperatures announcing themselves. Once home, however, the skies darkened, and the air coming in through the windows seemed cooler. I wondered what the day would become. Would we reach the predicted 77 degrees, and if so, is that the 77 of summer months or the 77 of fall months?There is a difference, you know.
This wondering led to wondering what to wear. I stood in my closet, which is way too full, embarrassingly full. I know I should never, ever say, "I don't have anything to wear." I don't say that, at least not very often, but in these early days of fall, I have a hard time deciding what to wear. Is it time to put away clothes that are clearly summer attire and get out clothes that fit this new season better? Do I just dress in layers, knowing that at some point in the day I can shed a sweater and roll up long sleeves? Do I wear a summer blouse with jeans instead of capris or ankle pants? Will this be the year I break my mother's code of no white after Labor Day and wear the white jeans that have been my go-to pants so much of the summer?
As my sister says, this is a First World Problem, meaning deciding what to wear now that we have turned the calendar page is a trivial and minuscule issue, and I agree, totally and completely. However, what I know about myself is that these kinds of everyday and ordinary questions lead me to exploring bigger questions.
These are days of transition. We aren't quite summer, but we aren't quite fall. True, the trees seem a deeper, denser green than they did a couple months ago, but I see no sign of reds or oranges or golds yet. Lawns and gardens have that almost overgrown look to them, almost tired, saying "We have done our job, folks. It is time to put us to bed." There is still enjoyment to be gleaned from them, however, and frost is not yet predicted. True, we have not been using the air conditioner in our bedroom the last few nights, but it is certainly possible we will need it for a night or two this month, making it too early to remove it. True, the market is full of apples and squash already and making soup sounds delectable, but the ice cream truck still makes a sweep of our neighborhood every evening.
Soon we will know we are in the midst of fall, and this past summer will be a memory. We will talk more about the coming of winter than we do the passing of summer. We will have made this seasonal transition successfully, and that is all in the natural order of things, but let's not move from point A to B without learning something about who we are when we know we are in transition. Transition is an ongoing fact of life. We are always in transition of some kind, so let's get friendly with it.
As I stood in my closet this morning, surrounded by possibilities, I realized I am more indecisive when I am in transition. The choices, which are often opposite of each other, all seem plausible and positive. White jeans? Maybe. Sweater? I guess. I have trouble committing. None of the choices seem quite right. What seemed like a good choice yesterday doesn't today. Before going to church on Sunday I discarded more than one total outfit, as if anyone would care. I was looking for my own comfort, however. I wanted to know what made sense for me in that moment and what would lead me into the next season. Lead me, not plop me there before the time was right.
I am indecisive when I move from past to a new present. I normally make decisions easily and quickly, and I had not realized that is not the case when I am in a transition.
Before fall was signaling its entrance and when summer was in control, I had a clearer vision of what I would be and do once the leaves were falling, but now in these in-between moments those plans and thoughts seem hazy to me. I want to hold onto the lazier aspects of the almost gone season and be able to say for just a bit longer, "This fall I will…" and "When summer is over I plan to…" Well, guess what? I no longer look over a hill at fall, I am standing right outside its gate. The other side of the gate with the goals I have set for myself and the classes I have signed up for (What was I thinking?) ready to start, I am having second thoughts.
That's what happens when we are in transition. The past seems more appealing no matter how hard we worked to leave it, and the future looks risky or empty or just like too much work.
What makes sense in this moment?
William Bridges in his classic book, Transitions, Making Sense of Life's Changes http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004ZY23TS offered wonderful advice, and I consult his words of wisdom often. Right now in this moment, however, what makes the most sense for me is to be in the present moment as fully as possible. In the transition I can live in the blend of the summer that is fleeting and the fall that is awakening. I can recognize that my indecision is a way of noting the change. I can pause and catch my breath, trusting that what I have planned as a way of answering "what's next?" will unfold in its own time and way. And I can remember that this is just one transition in my life. I have weathered many in my 66 years and more are yet to come, leading to the most important one of all.
How do you respond to transitions? What is your default behavior when you are in transition? Is that behavior a sign you are in transition? I would love to know.