Transitions can be the most challenging moments in our lives, if we aren’t prepared for change. Leaving home for the first time looks like a great deal until the first load of laundry or when living can-to-mouth. Moving in with someone, getting married can be glorious, but there is usually an adjustment that can go well or ill depending on if our sense of humor is onboard. Moving to Austin, Texas, from Washington, D.C., barely ahead of, then surrounded by an ice storm listened to Adele singing “Rumor has it” to keep my mind off the radio reports of jack-knifed trucks. Questioned my sanity. But after surviving four weeks of 100-degree days that summer, it just melted into life lived with family in a modern Southern tempo.
Bravery and that dash of humor are required to meet today’s tests on all fronts—health, finance, career, education, and family situations. Even before the world turned upside down, Bruce Feiler, author of Life is in the Transitions, saw change coming and went out to talk with hundreds of people in all 50 states about their “life quakes” and how they managed to plow through and conquer.
In the 6,000 typed pages from those interviews and the year analyzing the results, Feiler came up with personal and family stories that formed the foundation on which they devise practical solutions to climb out from under their challenges—cancer, bankruptcy, lost jobs, divorce, and loss of family members.
Several other best-selling authors (see below) attest to Feiler’s storytelling skills. He divides the process of building oneself out of a hole into three parts:
Bidding Goodbye. Leaving the old world behind. Maybe devise a ritual to indicate you understand the world is forever changed. Forever Grief will only chain you to the past, which is gone as much as many would wish it would return, making it harder to focus energy on creating a new future.
The Messy Middle. Writers know all about this—where you try to pull the threads from the beginning to match up with the strands working into the future at the end. This is where you work with “what is” to make it into what “could/will be.” The skill, talent, ambition, and reality roll around together as you try different combinations to restart the engine, keep it running, push it into another gear. The engine may stall once or twice, while you devise another solution, while becoming an inventor of sorts or an entrepreneur. Up to you.
A New Life: After applying a good bit of effort, intuition, humor, and a bit of sheer luck to the Messy Middle, plus some external positive action to move the Pandemic along, eventually we will arrive at another life station. (This won’t be the final destination until the game is through and we’re not ready for that!)
Work to shake off any remaining pessimism moving forward in a world changed by tragedy, but renewed with a spark of human energy, a dash of human kindness, and, after going through all this together, more than a little generosity.
Understandably some would pay to learn what life will look like on July 20, 2021, but the script hasn’t been written. This ‘life quake’ has hit every last one of us in some aspect of our life. Where will we be six, nine, twelve months from now? The script is up to each one of us to write, each and every day. Won’t be over until we are! Check out Feiler for suggestions to help along the way.
+ Bruce Feiler, Life is in the Transitions https://www.brucefeiler.com/books-articles/life-is-in-the-transitions/
The book can be purchased online to get a peek into the stories and the life strategies to assist us in our transitions.
Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project, says the stories here “are impossible to forget.”
Dave Isay, founder, Story Corps, “Bruce helps us understand our stories and lives through listening.”