Around 2:00 a.m., as I came back to bed from an all-too-common, middle-of-the-night trip to the bathroom, I ran into the corner of the bed. The impact and the expletive that followed woke my wife.
Yesterday, I could not find my favorite pair of jeans. They seem to have been abducted by denim fairies.
Last week, I discovered a light switch that doesn’t control anything. After an hour of investigation, it appears to be a dummy switch, which apparently was named for the people who spend an hour trying to figure out what it controls.
I’m not suffering from an overdose of cold medication or the early signs of dementia. I’m suffering from New Home Syndrome. You see, two weeks ago, we moved from our home of 17 years in Northern Virginia, where I knew the location of my favorite jeans and how all the light switches worked, to a beautiful home in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville, Virginia. It was a very smooth move and we love our new location. But like so many other experiences in life, we’re dealing with the side effects of the transition.
I won’t bore you with all the details but every day, we’re reminded of the changes we have gone through and the adjustments we need to make. And let me be perfectly clear, these changes are by choice and overwhelmingly positive rather than the negative impact of a forced transition.
But others we know are going through more challenging transitions. For instance…
…a friend will spend Christmas in another city because this is the first major holiday since her husband died in April.
…my mother left her home and community of 63 years to enter a senior living facility three hours away.
…our neighbor is getting a divorce after her husband decided he could not be the husband he needed to be.
Life is full of transitions. Some significant. Some less so. The greatest benefit of transitions is that when we embrace them, we often grow from the experience. The most harmful effect of life transitions is when we pretend they won’t happen to us and then, when they do, we’re caught off guard and can only see the negative.
If we step back and pay attention, we will see that change is a normal and constant component of life. Today is different from yesterday. Tomorrow will be different from today. It’s easy to see these differences over time but on a day-to-day basis, we can easily be seduced into expecting things to stay the same.
For example, my head has much less hair on it than it did 30 years ago and my stomach has much more, well, stomach. But, I didn’t really notice any changes on my head or with my stomach from one day to the next. Yet, this is symbolic of our entire lives. Things change.
When a family moves from one house to another, jeans will get lost. They may turn up before the next move but they may not. It is part of the transition.
As we get older, our bodies and minds change. Sometimes a new living environment is needed to accommodate those changes. This is simply part of the aging process and is a transition almost everyone experiences.
And when someone dies, we grieve. We miss them and we notice the vacancy they leave in our lives. But we all die as part of life’s greatest transition. We must not deny that reality but embrace it so that we truly live while we are still alive.
Life transitions can be the greatest teacher of all. But just like when we were in high school, many of us are looking out the window and not listening to the teacher. If, however, we pay attention and take notes on what we learn, I think we will move through life more smoothly and without as much resistance.
As you go through this holiday season, I hope that you find peace, joy and most importantly, contentment in whatever life transition you are experiencing. Because in the big scheme of things, every day is moving day.
Ron: we move on. Indeed. Many thanks for your insightful article. It gives one (well, me) a lot to think on.