I started a couple of different writing projects when the pandemic started. Over the last couple of years they have evolved. The circumstances of those years has made me keenly aware of my transition process. Not out of choice, but in trying to figure out what the hell was going on with me.
One of these transitions halted my writing projects. Something had to give in order create space and give attention to, what I now know, was a definitive ending and move into what William Bridges calls the neutral zone.
To help makes sense of this movement I’ve put together a digital zine that illustrates what it feels like.
In his book Transitions, Bridges outlines the process in three steps:
What I have discovered is that I will do just about anything to avoid the neutral zone. To emphasize I prefer Richard Rohr’s language for his transition model:
On a very visceral level my body will fight against the movement to disorder. Despite having plenty of experience in disorder (growing up in the Air Force) I will convince myself I can skip it and jump straight to the beginning.
What ends up happening is my beginning is short-lived because I’ve never fully embraced the ending and moved on. I straddle the divide, riding a pendulum from one to the other and back again.
It’s only after some heavy convincing (forced) that I finally let go, embrace the end, and fall into the growth-enabling disorder.
Frame is something I’ve regularly thought about since the crisis of my 32-year faith. My frame is the perspective I have of the world. It’s the way I see things. It’s my philosophy and my values. It’s what I lean on when I have nothing else to lean on.
Losing my faith wreaked havoc on my frame.
There have been a handful of times when I have felt so angry about something that it took weeks for me to shake it. One of those times was when I read the Zen phrase:
“The way a person does one thing is the way they do everything”.
I had a visceral reaction. For me a visceral reaction is a sure sign I am running from the truth. I am ashamed of the way I do things. Like when I avoid conversations with my kids or my wife. Or when the first thought that pops into my head when I meditate is oral sex. If that was the way I did everything then what kind of person am I?
“This too shall pass,” is one of my mom’s catchphrases. It’s a mantra she says when things go poorly. It’s one of her ways to provide perspective on the current situation, to remind herself and others that things don’t last forever. She’s not wrong but my interpretation wasn’t helpful.
My context was on an eternal timeline. I was pushing things so far out that it gave zero meaning to what I was experiencing now. I was abstracting the idea into nonsense. Given enough time nothing really matters. This is the plight of every hero that gets blessed with some form of immortality.
I hope you are doing well and enjoying the changes in the weather. The year is moving by fast, the first quarter is over and we’re trying to solidify our summer plans. This reality has made it very clear why I have so many unfinished projects.
On to where my head has been at recently...
I’ve been thinking a lot about that post I wrote about Playing it Safe. Reading those Bukowski poems really made me think about what my life had added up to. Where I was headed and where I’m not.
I get depressed with it not matching what I’m seeing from others.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read poetry. I’ve never read a poetry book cover to cover. It almost feels weird reading it like that. Like that time I tried to read a choose your own adventure without making any choices…
I added Charles Bukowski’s The Pleasures of the Damned to my reading list based on a recommendation. When I bought it I wasn’t sure it was his poetry. It’s been good. Better than anticipated. There’s a reason Bukowski has a following. There have been quite a few of his poems that stood out.
I am traveling for work this weekend. When booking the trip I didn’t think twice about getting on an airplane on September 10. My memory for tragedy is short. I am a hard-wired optimist. I am more comfortable on the smallest sliver of silver lining than embracing the complexities of an event like September 11.
Now that I’ve recognized that discomfort perhaps it’s time to lean into it. To do that I must rehash my own experience with the timeline of September 11, 2001.
I turned 37 this year. An inconsequential age on my timeline here. Or so I thought.
While walking along the boardwalk downtown my daughter said to me, “You’re old dad.”
To which I responded, “I’m 37. I’m not old.”
My words went right over her head as she promptly got distracted needing to chase a pigeon off the pier.
Meanwhile, that phrase transported me back 24 years to Las Vegas. Sitting in Nate and Matt Williams’ living room watching this:
I have been working on my non-dualistic thinking. Trying to give myself grace around the things I don’t particularly like about myself after acknowledging they exist. Recognizing that both sides are the same person. It’s all me, not just the good or the bad, but all of it. Creating that unity is hard.