Transitions are powerful yet never easy. Life is full of them, these shifts and changes of landscape and journeying, movement that we must all make in and of ourselves.
Perhaps you are in your own transition, becoming a new creature yourself, moving in new ways, stretching to reach for things you had not reached for before, and others around you are not so impressed, and certainly don’t know what to do with themselves in context of you.
My own journey has been full of people not able to carry on alongside me. And while it has been a disillusioning process with much grief, I’ve learned a few things along the way and perhaps I can validate and encourage what I suspect is your journey as well.
The image that comes to mind is that of a train. You start off from the station, slowly at first, taking an easy pace for some time in fact. Those on board are enjoying the breeze, there is excitement in the air, you are all in this together and things look great.
But then the train catches into the next gear, the wind whips by a little faster, and a few of those on board are not okay any longer. It’s going too fast, the scenery flashes by a little too quickly, there are a few unknowns coming to light, not everything is as sure as it could be, and before you know it a few dear friends have fallen off at the side.
At some point in time the pace picks up even more. And if there wasn’t difficulty enough, you are now traveling through mountains. With cliffs dropping off into hundred-foot drops, with heart-numbing tunnels at which (for some time) there is no light at the end, and with corners that test the stoutest of souls, another number of those who’ve been alongside simply yet hastily get off at the next available stop.
Not only does the train not stop, it actually picks up speed. Now you are really moving. This train is really traveling. Gathering momentum you are out of the mountains and on the long stretches of prairie. While the risks are not so profound, the speed has increased and the destination is not so much somewhere to arrive at, but a process by which to live. And still more drop off at the sides.
At this point in the story, repeat and then repeat some more, repeat and then repeat some more.
The first few times I encountered this kind of loss and cost in the journey, the grief wracked my being for weeks. There was disillusionment and dismay. I would wonder about myself, looking for who to blame and where to launch my disappointments.
But of course, while grieving is always useful, looking to hurt someone as keenly as that hurt is piercing my own heart is never a good solution (and that is an understatement).
Learning to grieve and to let go, allowing compassion to coat all of our relationships simply makes it plain that not everyone can move alongside where we are called to go, and that is simply OK.
We don’t need to fix it, don’t need to manage or manipulate a different outcome.
Grieving creates nimbleness in our hearts. For what this train story does not show, is that at every phase along the way, new people are coming on board.
At every stage there are those who come on board for a specific time and place and gift set added to the journey. They are very rarely those we began the journey with, they are new contacts, new hearts, new souls alongside which we travel.
So while the journey is never easy, it is incredibly rich.
I’ve also come to see that the input of each individual along the way is not diminished by their not being able to stay on the train. Rather the ability to recognize and commend and thank each and every person along the way, opens our own hearts and minds to receive others who have yet to come on board.
Once we release the ones who have dropped off, we can accept and fully embrace those who are set to journey a future piece of our landscape.
I don’t know your journey or your own transitional times, but I do know that the people change along the way. Take this to heart, cry and grieve the loss and the cost, as many times as you need.
But the real point: keep your heart open and your life nimble to welcome and embrace those who will show up at that next part of your journey. They will bring something that the others could not bring, something that you will need for that next step.