Updated: Oct 12, 2021
There is artistry in all things. Even in learning how to wade through life's transition...
I've found myself reflecting a great deal on transitions... Having recently relocated with my partner some 3,000 miles away from what has been known and felt as "home," I have certainly been thrust into the experience of embracing (and not always gracefully) the uncertainties of the "unknown": a component that too often coincides with major life transitions.
Whether the transition represents a physical and cultural/geographical move; the loss or change of a job, occupation or life direction; the beginning of a new activity, vocation or challenge; changes in health or the health of a loved one; or the loss of a significant relationship or a role transformation, transitions are as inevitable to life as they are integral to one's growth.... and they can also elicit great stress and anxiety.
In fact, it wouldn't take even the most novice internet detective long to stumble across numerous scientific articles that highlight the well-established connection between life transitions and stress, anxiety and depression (here is a helpful article that reviews some practical tips for helping to manage change/transitions, in case useful).
But these liminal spaces (often ill-defined, nebulous, and transitory) also represent a threshold in some manner; the leaving behind of a familiar state for a yet-to-be-discovered potential.
Somewhere along the road, if you had even remotely similar socialization experiences to that of my own, you may have learned not to take breaks.... that progress and success is linear.... that you shouldn't make messes, get dirty, or make the wrong brush stroke, so to speak.... that you shouldn't stumble, stop and start over (but do it all right on the first try)... and therefore, that you shouldn't take risks. Some of these teachings appear so ubiquitous in our cultural environment, that they're like unspoken slogans: invisible directives and norms influencing our behavior and mediating how we respond to circumstances throughout our lives.
Transitions, at least to me, can assist in calling attention to these socialized scripts, and therefore, offer great opportunity for challenging them. What might be a more life affirming and supportive thought than to berate oneself for not "getting something right," or what might be a more helpful way of responding to a new terrain than incessantly worrying about making errors, doing something wrong, or not being "good enough"? And taking this one step further, what might it be like to feel permission (indeed, encouragement!) to make a mess, to dig and play unabashed and unafraid in the metaphorical sandbox of life--a constitution (and perhaps practice) which entails embracing the gift of fallibility and the gift of playfulness, while exercising intellectual/emotional humility at all turns.
As I have come to learn, and have been lately reminded of, sometimes when things feel as though they are coming completely apart, they are only making way for new growth and expanded potential.... Like the acorn.
In remembering to look and be mindful of thoughts during transitions, is it possible to be more like the acorn? Embracing an attitude of readiness to come completely undone; daring to envision and begin to create the grove of trees that lie in its unfolding.... And is it possible to channel the inner child, the one who was unafraid to play, to make mistakes, to grow and stumble, and laugh and learn.... The one born, already / intrinsically / unmistakably, as an artist: capable of dreaming, creating, inspiring, and taking the risks necessary for each...
Within all things, there is artistry. Within each, an artist. And all things can function as our teacher, our muse, our mentor...
May we each find ways to integrate the lessons of the acorn.
And may we each become more fully (re)acquainted with the inner child/artist who already, innately, resides in us all.
May you be well,