NEEDED: The Next Big Adventure

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!

5. West Wing. First, though, I plan to watch reruns of the West Wing. Maybe even the pilot of Grey’s Anatomy, because they are both fine television and perfect escapes.

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?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. i have no strategies, but can report I’m deeply relieved that I’m not the only person with trouble closing up the old chapter before taking the next big dive. i like all your suggestions though and will have to employ one or two of them asap!

  2. Hi, Jen! I can add strategies: Yesterday I was reading an article in which the woman author asked herself, “How am I doing right now?” What do I want to do right now?” This helps. Not looking too far forward or too far back… just here and now. For me, too, this phase always passes very quickly once there are new options… so am generating lots of new options.

  3. All you have to do is listen to your inner voice. It already knows where you are going. Sit quietly, breathe, and listen. We love you!!!

  4. I think this is the most exciting juncture you will find yourself confronting.
    The 40s are a great time for taking a real look at the “rest of your life”.
    You know my philosophy: Think before you act, accept responsibility for your decisions, do not regret your choices, learn from them!

  5. Rebecca, this is a great description of that crossroads moment…. like being at the top of the rollercoaster with butterflies in your stomach, awaiting the “whoooosh”, the squeal and the happy excitment.

    I really like no. 1, the card game – a great mix of serendipity and intuition. I find that no. 5 is usually the opposite of what I need though. At these times, I seek solitude in nature, no distractions and in the silence, re-connecting with what I know to be true for me and allowing something new to unfold. But before I allow myself that, I may watch a whole season of Greys Anatomy LOL !

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