You know how life sometimes hands you really big transitions? Times when you can’t stay or go back and you have to make big choices and move on whether you want or not? Like graduating from a small liberal arts college. Those people will never all be in that place, together, ever again. You aren’t allowed to stay there any more; they close the campus for summer.
Life has handed me one of those moments. Again. Despite my deep love of and commitment to Adventure, I have discovered something about myself I’m not sure I ever saw so clearly before: I hate these moments. I didn’t want to leave Hampshire College, and I would have stayed at the University of Colorado forever on my full PhD scholarship if they’d let me. (That was a particularly sweet deal in one of the best places on earth, if you ask me. Wonderful people, great work. I loved it.)
Maybe it’s because my parents have been together since they were 15 and only lived in 2 houses almost my whole life; maybe it’s because my own life has been so chock full of change; maybe it’s something else, I don’t know… what I do know is it’s time to make some big decisions and chart a new course, set out on a new Adventure. Right now, how this is gonna turn out is anyone’s guess.
Once I know a little bit better what direction I’m headed… that’s when the fun begins – I love planning the next Big Adventure. It’s this uncertainty and closing the book on the previous one that gets me every time. I notice, as I look back, that I’ve developed strategies for this:
1. Card Game (you know how I love games): Fold a piece of paper into 16 or so squares. Write down various possible options like, “Move to Boulder.” “Sell everything and join an ashram.” “Stay put for one more year.” Write down all the options you’re thinking of. Fold them up and shake them up in a dish, hat, whatever. Then pick two. Have a look and note your gut reaction – you’ll like one better than the other. Toss the one you don’t like til you only have one or two left. If you don’t like those, you’re hosed (see #5).
2. Nostalgia. No matter how sad or painful this may be, take time to celebrate everything good and look back over all the highs and lows of the chapter that’s ending. Photos, journals, and scrapbooks are great for this, as are small gatherings of good friends. This helps me prepare to move on.
3. New Adventure. A deadline, moving van, start date… whatever it takes to jump-start the next phase is good.
4. Looking good. Lose weight, get a good hair cut, go to the beach and get a little sun on your cheeks. Looking good always helps this difficult phase feel better!
So that’s the extent of my plan for now. I’m done with nostalgia; I’ll watch a couple episodes tonight. I head to the beach next Friday. From there we’ll see… Brainstorming needed. All input appreciated. What are your strategies? What Adventures should I undertake and share next?