Going through life changes? Here, some thoughts on how creative this might be — and a little writing exercise just for you.
Maybe you’re a new mother. Or your last kid’s off to school. Maybe there’s been a death in the family. A job loss. A marriage – or divorce. Perhaps you imagine winding down your career and – however far off – retirement has begun to appear on the horizon.
Change, in other words. Periods of transition.
How do you prepare for this? How can you go through changes without too much fear, and even some grace?
I take comfort (and instruction) in a teaching that’s thousands of years old, imagining that millions of people throughout time have been able to recognize – and accept – life changes.
All things are impermanent
It is their nature to arise and pass away
To be in harmony with this truth
Brings true happiness.
Precisely because there are lots of “don’t know’s” in this time, change offers great creativity. It is a moment filled with all kinds of possibility. You won’t know – can’t know – for a little while or a long while – what this will be.
Something new will grow.
Maybe you’re used to being smart. Maybe you’re an expert. Maybe you like to be in control. Consider this: change is an invitation to exhale and let go. And this letting go and allowing the new to emerge is the mind-state most needed when there are changes in your life.
If you look carefully, every life change has three stages: (1) Separation from what’s known. (2) Unknown terrain. (3) Fully embodying the new stage or identity.
It’s the unknown that’s important here. Now a clue to take into your own wild and precious life:
Studying anthropology in graduate school, I examined rites (rituals) of passage, occasions marking different life stages. (You know, a girl becomes a woman, a boy becomes a man, a baby is born and named…)
This unfamiliar time (stage two) is called a liminal state (limn: threshold – the place between two rooms). It’s like the time in the womb, like a chrysalis: something is growing but you can’t see what it is. It’s like the tunnel before the light at the end of the tunnel.
Yes, this can be scary. Yet if you try to hold on to what’s gone or slipping away, and happiness – and potentially wonderful creative growth – will elude you. (Or as novelist Carlos Fuentes writes, “Bad books are written by writers who knew what they were going to write before they wrote them.”)
Being creative means not knowing what is going to happen. This “not knowing” IS the core of creativity, and it’s a skill you can practice that will transform your relationships, your work – no matter the field – and YOU.
Writing also invites discovery.
Want to try? Take a nice-sized blank page, and draw a horizontal line with plenty of space above it.
This is a time-line – a timeline of your life. (Like in like in history class: 1066 on the left, 1492 in the middle…)
Write down – quickly – 5 moments in your life that are important to you.
Next: pick one of these moments and – just to the left of it – write down something that led up to it. Then to the right of it, write down something that it led to… (Can’t decide which of the five? Just go for it; you can do the others later.)
Go for 10 minutes writing the story of this moment. Include what came before and after. Start anywhere and GO!