A few weeks ago I googled “books about life transitions”. It has been a year and a half since I began the biggest transition of my life, my retirement from 42 years of pastoral work. I, somewhat arrogantly, assumed I would simply turn out the light and close the door on one phase of my life and strut confidently into the next.
My google search turned up one promising, if not obvious, book on the subject of my angst – Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges. It is a best seller and rated by many as a Top 50 self-help book. And it looked familiar. Hmmmm, where had I seen it before? I turned to my right and…huh…there it was on my bookshelf! Turns out someone had thoughtfully given it to me as a gift at my “retirement”. (I am not retired, by the way.)
All this to say that it has helped me greatly and I believe it could help you. So let this be a bit of a book review.
Bridges suggests that all transitions have a common form to them – an ending, a neutral zone and a new beginning. Jeff Manyon in his equally helpful book The Land Between, refers to the neutral zone as the land between.
And that is where I am. You too?
This land between/neutral zone is a necessary place of transformation before the new beginning can fully take hold. There is no short cut through it. It is a necessary “empty space in a lifetime where a new sense of self can gestate.” After the “disidentification, disenchantment, disengagement, dismantling, and disorientation” of the ending, there must be a place of mystery where attentiveness, reflection and dreaming can begin the reset of a life.
It takes a while, he says. Don’t I know it. Bridges suggests that I need this time “as an apple tree needs the cold of winter.” So here I am, and maybe so are you.
If you have followed my newsletters or my blog for a while, you know what my new beginning looks like. I am excited about Destinyworks and am looking forward, in a few weeks, to revealing some even newer and more exciting dimensions of this work. But that day I googled for help and started reading the book, I realized I had tried to short circuit the wintering of the land between. The re-enchantment of my life would take more time, more mystery and more mindfulness.
I don’t like to wait, but wait I will as whoever this new man is begins to emerge.