Maybe it’s because I recently celebrated my 37th birthday, but I’ve been thinking about transitions a lot lately. The first thing that comes to mind is an image of my grandmother and the glasses she wore. She had a pair of “transitions” lenses that would change into sunglasses when she went outside which kept her from having to keep up with two pair of prescriptions glasses. She liked the convenience, but didn’t like how long it took for them to change back once she was indoors. I find this to be the perfect metaphor for how difficult even the best transitions in life can be to accept.
Transitions both man-made and natural are all around us, whether it’s the demolition of a building to put something new in its place or the changing of the seasons. They can hit us from out of nowhere in the guise of an illness or unemployment, but just as often, transitions can be expected at certain stages in our lives. Just because something can be expected, though, doesn’t make it easy to accept or even tolerate.
Thinking back over the past 37 years, I realize that some of the transitions in my life are easy to define. I transitioned from single to married life on June 19, 1999 at 7:00 p.m. I made the transition from depressed temporary worker to legal assistant in September, 2004, and although I haven’t yet made the transition yet to motherhood, I am trying to do so. But what of other transitions? Even though I’m now 37, I can’t figure out exactly when it was that I grew up (if I ever did). The law says that happened in the summer of 1992, when I turned 18, but was that when it really happened? Like 99.9% of other 18 year olds, I was still living under my parents’ roof, they were still buying my groceries and putting gas in my car, and they were going to pay for my college education. So do you “grow up” once you become financially independent? I’m not sure. I rather doubt that emotional transitions indicate the arrival of the elusive beast called adulthood, either. Some people face obstacles that force maturity on them at a young age, while some adults never seem to grow up. And when will I officially be “old”? I know many people who seem younger than they are just because they keep a healthy outlook and disposition, while others age before their time. Who knows when “old age” will truly hit? I hope I don’t ever feel it sneak up on me.
Perhaps we shouldn’t try to analyze all the transitions in our lives and force them into an A+B=C pattern. Certainly there are some that conform to such a linear way of thinking, but most can’t be that easily quantified. We slip in and out of our transitions as we go through the act of living, each change influenced by our daily decisions and forces we cannot control. If we can manage transitions armed with grace, foresight, dignity and as much knowledge as possible, then we will accomplish much in life.