Of Transitions & Becoming

I spent my 35th birthday in a one-room cabin on a lake with my mother.

In Latin, transitionem means a going across or over. Transitions are thresholds when we cross, with shuffles or strides, from one place to another. And I’ve come to believe in marking them.

The cabin was pine. There was no cell service and a dock perfect for dangling your feet in the water.

We brought MadLibs and Bananagrams, more books than we could possibly read, a Coleman cooler of grapes, chicken, barbecue sauce. This transition, I decided, called for playing, lazing, beauty.

I have rushed through or been sloppy with some transitions. Always, I’ve paid the price in unfelt feelings showing up as exhaustion and a short fuse.

We read on the screened-in porch with our feet up on the cooler. We talked about my designs for the new year. We chuckled. We challenged each other. We lulled like the dock bobbing on the lake water.

Transition can be both obvious and not so. Birthdays and bat mitzvahs, graduations and funerals - we have cards, sheet cakes, bouquets for those. Finishing the book we were writing or quitting the job that wasn’t working, ending a relationship or starting recovery, those are less noted, often longer goings across. Still, they deserve to be acknowledged, marked with some kind of ceremony, ritual, a toast or candle burned.

After a quick, cold dunk in the lake, I wrapped up in a towel and walked through paper birches back to the cabin. It smelled like my mother’s coffee. Soon, I would make good oatmeal. This feeling - ease and a low speed for higher awareness - I wanted to pull like taffy through my whole year.

Transition is change, and change is a brilliant destabilizer. But a transition, marked with care, can be ennobling. Look, it acknowledges, we are no longer who we were. Feel that. And then get down to becoming who we are to be.

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