The good friction of the in-between
On being in transition
December seems the perfect time to write about endings. In just a few weeks it will be a new year, and we’ll be looking forward with hope and excitement, a little bit of anticipation maybe even, for everything that will change — because it surely will.
As we’re caught up in pre-holiday shopping and planning, or wrapping up projects at the end of the fiscal year, we may want to gloss over the past year in a rush to get to the office Christmas party.
And we may shy away from taking a good look at the things that have failed or that have left us depleted, burnt out, or even unhappy.
(Full disclosure: Having this conversation with yourself is good at any point during the year. But the end of the year has something so final and purifying about it, better time than any.)
That can take the form of letting go of behavior that is harmful to ourselves or others. Or letting go of people we no longer feel connected with or love for.
Letting go of beliefs that no longer serve us.
Letting go of entire life chapters.
Letting go of wanting it all. Or letting go of wanting the wrong things.
The intent of letting go is only the first step. (Bummer, right.) It’s the actually moving into something new, adopting new behavior, learning new things — that’s the hard part.
That’s the transition, the friction between things endings and things not yet beginning.
Life follows no project plan
Have you hear of the saying “Life is a journey, not a destination”? I’ve found this to be (frustratingly) true. We look for a clear starting point and end destination. It would make so many things easier if it worked that way.
But it doesn’t.
Some things do have clear starting and ending points.
Most things are messy, though. Confusing. Opaque. Not linear.
Sometimes they’re a back and forth. It’s easy to have a starting and ending point with a job. Or a romantic relationship. Or a city.
But with a few things in life, it’s quite hard to recognize when something is really over. Especially when it’s about beginning a new chapter, when you’re reinventing yourself, exploring what else is out there. It’s really hard to identify that one ending point.
An ending contains many endings
Truth be told, most of our stories are chapters or experiences that don’t have a clear-cut ending. They merge into one another, fluidly, like a river meeting the ocean.