The very topic of transitions makes me think of the physical transitions that I witnessed as I drove the U-Haul truck while moving our things from my former home in Minnesota to North Carolina. The journey began with driving past the many great lakes of Minnesota, some scaling several blocks while others spanned for miles. From there my driving journey took me through the water park capital of the nation, Wisconsin Dells, where theme parks sat on every corner filled to capacity with excited attendees. It wasn’t long before I was sitting idle in the heavy traffic of the Windy City, Chicago.
As I continued my journey, I felt like I was on a race track at the Indianapolis 500 coming through Indiana watching car after car speed pass me and my U-Haul, traveling beyond my speed of 70 miles an hour. The pace slowed as I crossed into the state boundaries of basketball USA, Kentucky, where every traveler gladly showcased their allegiance to the University of Louisville Cardinals or the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
The environment seemed to slow down even more as I crossed into the state lines of Tennessee and began to enter into the foothills, otherwise known as “mountains”. I couldn’t believe that these small, muffin hills were the scary mountains that everyone had warned me about before making my drive. I thumbed my nose at the small, muffin tops continuing to travel at my speed of 70 miles and hour. As I continued and began climbing in elevation, I suddenly found my hands starting to sweat and the U-Haul dropped in speed as it struggled to climb the steep inclines. Wow! I was no longer transitioning over muffin tops, these were truly mountains that reminded me of the Rocky Mountains of my home state of Colorado. The Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina were beautiful and at the same time frightening. There were moments when the mountains presented picturesque scenes overlooking miles and miles of tree filled valleys with roaming creeks and rivers. While, on other occasions, I had to hold on tight and stay focused on the road and not become preoccupied with the soaring cliffs that dropped hundreds, if not thousands, of feet away from me and my U-Haul.
What an experience! These physical transitions of my journey from Minnesota to North Carolina can be much like the journeys of life. Many ups and downs, exciting moments, and scary moments. Upon reflecting on my journey from Minnesota to North Carolina, I realized that many times our previous experiences often guide how we endure future transitions.
Consider the story of the travelers and the monk.
One day a traveler was walking along a road on his journey from one village to another. As he walked he noticed a monk tending the ground in the fields beside the road. The monk said “Good day” to the traveler, and the traveler nodded to the monk. The traveler then turned to the monk and said: “Excuse me, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Not at all,” replied the monk.
“I am traveling from the village in the mountains to the village in the valley and I was wondering if you knew what it is like in the village in the valley?”
“Tell me,” said the monk, “What was your experience of the village in the mountains?”
“Dreadful,” replied the traveler, “to be honest I am glad to be away from there. I found the people most unwelcoming. When I first arrived I was greeted coldly. I was never made to feel part of the village no matter how hard I tried. The villagers keep very much to themselves, they don’t take kindly to strangers. So tell me, what can I expect in the village in the valley?”
“I am sorry to tell you,” said the monk, “but I think your experience will be much the same there”.
The traveler hung his head despondently and walked on.
A while later another traveler was journeying down the same road and he also came upon the monk.
“I’m going to the village in the valley,” said the second traveler, “Do you know what it is like?”
“I do,” replied the monk “But first tell me – where have you come from?”
“I’ve come from the village in the mountains.”
“And how was that?”
“It was a wonderful experience. I would have stayed if I could but I am committed to traveling on. I felt as though I was a member of the family in the village. The elders gave me much advice, the children laughed and joked with me and people were generally kind and generous. I am sad to have left there. It will always hold special memories for me. And what of the village in the valley?” he asked again.
“I think you will find it much the same” replied the monk, “Good day to you”.
“Good day and thank you,” the traveler replied, smiled, and journeyed on.
How do you view your previous experiences in life? Do you see current or previous relationships as a curse or a blessing? Have your experiences in life been shaped in a way that gives you a positive outlook on any future transitions that you may encounter?
Here are some tips to help navigate effectively during times of transitions:
Recognize where you are and pay close attention to things needing your focus: e.g., relationships, health, spiritual growth, financial needs, professional networks, etc.
Be clear on what motivates you: was the transition prompted by running toward an opportunity, or running from failure?
Address your fears before and during the transition: write down the desires that you have about the transition, write down what makes you anxious or fearful about the transition, write down 3 things that could happen if that fear becomes a reality in the transition, write down 3 actions that you can take to bounce back from the fears becoming reality in the transition.
Celebrate your small successes in the transition.
Best of luck to you as you transition into this new season of summer!