To say I’m going through a period of transition would be an understatement. After a series of crises, two moves in as many months (plus preparing for a third, cross-country move), and launching an overhaul of my professional life I’m shocked and overwhelmed, but also delighted and excited.
In the last few weeks, I was under a lot of stress and turned to William Bridges’ fantastic book, Transitions. I stumbled upon the book – for reasons I don’t remember – several years ago while I was finishing my dissertation. Even just reading the Google Book preview gave me enough wisdom to navigate that period of transition. Bridges talks about three stages to transition:
All transitions are composed of (1) an ending, (2) a neutral zone, and (3) a new beginning.
Having been raised Catholic, I understand how Easter celebrations represent this cycle in terms of death, stasis, and rebirth. But being the pop music aficionado that I am, I also thought of Semisonic’s “Closing Time,” with the line I found so profound at age 13, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
My understanding is the song is about preparing for the birth of a child. In Transitions, Bridges talks about how a lot of new parents have to mourn the loss of their old, independent life. When “Closing Time” was released, my parents were getting ready to close on their house in St. Louis (where I’d lived my entire childhood) and getting ready to move to Chicago. The move ultimately launched my musical career and other facets of adulthood, but at the time, I really mourned the loss of “some other beginning’s end.” Having had a pretty happy childhood, especially while being unschooled, I expected and hoped that my adolescence and adult life would be pretty similar. For better or worse, that was not the case.
Right now, I’m staying with amazing friends in their new house that is luxurious, private, and surrounded by nature – the perfect retreat for a career reset! But it’s also been important for me to help them get their old house on the market and ready for “closing time” – just like I helped my parents do the same thing 20 years ago (and trust me, hard labor was a lot easier at 13 than it is now at 33…) When I ran to a hardware store a day before Easter to pick up an outlet cover, I was amused to walk in and hear “Closing Time” playing over the store radio. While I was in there for less than 2 minutes, I was curious to hear the next song up. It turned out to be David Bowie’s “Changes,” prompting me to think, “Huh, this must be the ‘Death and Rebirth’ Pandora station…”