Unlike some people, my life has been one of constant change and transition. I was in 13 different schools before I graduated high school, lived in 20 – something separate homes before I was 20 (almost 20 more after that) and…well, there has been a lot of that sort of thing in my life.
I have even had four major careers. I was a social-worky type for twelve years, a real estate developer for eight, a consultant for six and a mediator/arbitrator for close to twenty. Throw in a lot of travel, some cul-de-sac time and living on boats and you might get the impression that I lived in a state of flux so much that change seemed constant and, worse, routine probably became unbearable. And you’d be right. The short form of routine is rut and, for me, routine is hell.
I have enjoyed lots of ‘life’ changes and, of course, with that comes the inescapable transitions between them. ‘Aye, …and there’s the rub!’ You cannot go directly from A to B. You have to cross through the empty space from A before getting to B. That space is uncomfortable and, for me, basically an ordeal. When you get to B, you get to start adjusting, adapting, coping, learning…new people, new situations, new interests, new, new, new, new. It’s all good once you make it to B.
Transition time feels more like a wonky knee, something chronic and crippling…no progress….I came to recognize those transition times as such. It’s basically frustration….the fork in the road, so to speak. All progress, growth and learning stops while you make the next choice. Of course, the ‘new’ phase chosen is super interesting, challenging and an adventure. The new phase, once recognized, is attractive.
That time spent musing at the fork-in-the-road….? Not so much.
Imagine (for a sec) that you are really into something and doing well and learning and growing. You will inevitably start to make a regular routine or process from that growth path. That’s natural. As your expertise or familiarity grows, you anticipate and plan more effectively and you slowly go from apprentice to journeyman to (if you are lucky) an old pro or expert stage. But, as that happens, the excitement and enthusiasm diminish but at least some comfort usually ensues. Wealth of some kind might accumulate. You might even relax? After comfort maybe comes a bit of boredom (for me, anyway) and then restless disinterest combined with fatigue creeps in.
You start to think…..’maybe it is time to ‘move on‘…..that is the inner feeling I am now recognizing again. Frustration. I am full-on into some kind of transition mode.
Don’t misunderstand me; it is extremely unlikely the next phase has me moving back from OTG. Each phase teaches you something deep and established and I am deeply established here or, maybe, somewhere else OTG…(you never know what kind of fork in the road will loom into view and a foreign country OTG is not out of the question) but some things in my life are pretty much firmly established. OTG. Sal. Kids. Friends. Values. I do not see where the next phase is coming from or going to is but I can feel the familiar itch of the transition phase.
“Dave! You losin it, man? You ON something?”
No. Not in the least. And I can prove it. I call to the stand my first witness, Ms Gail Sheehy. She was/is the author of Passages (1972). In that book (I read it in the early 80’s) Sheehy explained that adults go through phases just as children do. The major difference is that kids go through a lot of ‘recognized’ phases from the Terrible Twos to the pre-teen, the pubescent teen, the troubled teen, the young adult and all the phases in between. Young people got phases up the yin yang!
Adults, she claimed, only went through two or three ‘adult’ phases which she never quite defined in years. But her second book, New Passages did. She says….
Provisional Adult: 18-30 years old (includes Turbulent 20’s and the transition to 1st Adulthood)
First Adulthood: 30-45 years old (includes early 40’s Middlessence – a 2nd adolescence)
Second Adulthood: 45-85 years old (includes 45–65 Age of Mastery and 65–85 Age of Integrity)
Seems the last phase for Ms Sheehy ends there…. At 85 I might become a master of something and have integrity. Harrumph!
I don’t think so…..I believe her basic theory, her ‘phases’ concept and I have the life experiences as corroborating evidence to back it up…but, well, Gail went only through some phases and some people go through more. Some maybe less. I think we all get the phases we seek and choose. I tend to be a bit greedy and I choose to have more……I think….I mean….I am once again at a transition fork. Progress has stopped while I choose…. first I have to look down another road or two……..