By any chance are you going through some stuff right now, a bit a transition say? Transitions can be tough.
Consider the story of a little boy who’d enjoyed playing at a friend’s house, that big white one down the block. And it comes time to go home but he doesn’t want to—he sure likes the toys in that house and the ways he’s been made to feel special there. He says that it isn’t fair when people tell him he has to go. So, he throws a temper tantrum, a big one. Things get broken and even some of the adults standing around get hurt. In the confusion and mess of having to go back home he slips some of the toys from the big white house in with his stuff, sneaking them out to take them home with him.
Anyway, after he's finally gone people realize that he’s taken things that really don’t belong to him. When they try to get them back, he says they’re MINE, they’re at his house now and nobody has any right to take them away.
Yes, sometimes we have trouble with transitions.
All of us.
My last two blog posts have looked at the difficulty we face with emergent phenomena and the way we struggle when things we’ve grown to count on fade away. Transitions contain both, both at the same time. We let go of what was and then have to grasp on to what’s new.
Our brains, as adaptable, don’t easily give up the ways they’d organized the world before the external demands for making a transition came along.
Consider the aged-out newspaper reporter in this month’s story, Riding the Bus, featured on the ENGAGE! page of this website. We meet up with him a few years after he’d given up his vocation of seeking out stories in his home town, the sort of stories that tweak a nerve of nostalgia or memory of something once meaningful but now gone. Mixed into those recollections he notices shocking new ways that the world happens to present itself now—the rude graphic on a teenager’s black hoodie or a disrespectful bumper sticker on a t-boning pickup truck. I hope you’ll love that story.
I’m a few years into my own major life transition. As a psychologist my world was rich with stories, other people’s stories. The whole venture of providing psychotherapy was focused on helping my clients get their story out in a way that could help them achieve peace and productive personal change. Now I write my own stories.
And when I was with clients as a psychologist I needed to be circumspect of sharing opinions other than as the knowledge and theoretical structures of the profession would interpret the client’s difficulty. Now I write a blog.
When my clients were going through transitions, I advised them not to strive to make the “right” decision. Instead of that, I recommended that they make a good decision. And then, as they act on that decision and their circumstances change, along comes the occasion to make the next good decision. Over time, the sequence of goodness builds into its own new direction.
My retirement from the profession was a good decision, perhaps too long delayed but it has worked out well. And the decision to write, that has been a good one too. For example, I have this terrific website that I can modify and adapt—for sure that’s been very good. Over the space of a year, sharing my fiction freely on the website was a good idea and I watched the number of hits on the Fourth Comings page grow every month. Lately writing days have been spent exploring the religious context of my childhood, the seeds of a next novel have been planted there, and boy are those stories growing!
Now it’s time for yet another transition, and another (I hope) good decision. Fresh fiction each month is still available to you as a reader, but now it comes with the opportunity for connection between us. As of this month, I’m sending the stories out to readers who request them by email rather than publishing them directly to the website. In exchange for getting them I ask you to give me feedback, just a quick rating the stories for readability, credibility and emotional impact. Easy-peasy as they say!
So let’s start with you taking a bus ride with me. And yes, as you read Riding the Bus that’s me you’re with. A little autobiographical that story is—but yes, totally fictional too.
You can request your copy of the story by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s make this good decision together.