Having gone through some pretty major life transitions lately, I’m feeling very in-between.
It isn’t a bad feeling, but it’s uncomfortable in a lot of ways. I feel awfully rudderless, as if floating without a clear direction. I’m between writing projects, having finished #9, Murder in Santorini, with no ideas for my next book. I’m between promotions; I recently published book #1 in paperback, but don’t feel inspired to plan a big (terrifying) launch just now, and since I don’t have a release date, it’s too soon to promote #9’s release on Kindle. I’m not ready to start booking my Spring 2014 trip to Greece. Because of personal transitions, I’m between one chapter of my life and the next.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this interval between endings and beginnings. How so many times I’ve rushed right through it, barely aware of what was happening. Even though I’ve read William Bridges’ seminal work Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes at least eight times and understood that the “neutral zone” is a necessary part of change—especially major transitions, like leaving/starting a job, becoming a parent, losing a loved one, beginning/ending a relationship—I still don’t believe I’ve ever given my attention to simply honoring the space between what was and what’s is/will be. After all, it’s not fun—not nearly as exciting or interesting as focusing on the novelty of a beginning, that’s for sure.
The neutral zone is a strange place to hang out, both highly charged with a wide range emotions and yet so EMPTY at the same time. No wonder it’s not comfortable. Between intense swells of feelings, I find myself sitting and staring into space for long periods, unable to concentrate on reading or writing, apparently content to let my mind wander where it will. And it wanders into some pretty unexpected places, revealing truths about myself that often aren’t easy to face, creating mingled confusion and clarity.
Like so many of us, I feel like I thrive when I’m creating and challenging myself, and it’s hard to sit back and just, well, sit. I know starting a new book would be as absorbing as it always is, that it would help fill the emptiness in a way my journal can’t. But I’m coming to recognize that, in spite of the discomfort, I want to appreciate this in-between time, rather than push myself through it as I have before. To be fully conscious of what’s arising and learn, accept and release. It will pass—the flavor of it already changes from week to week, moving me slowly from ending to beginning, out of one reality and into another. If I allow the process to take me where it will, instead of ignoring it or filling it with a distracting new project, I feel like the possibilities for healing and growth might exceed my wildest expectations.
So my resolution for the moment is: do nothing. Don’t worry about the next book, or upcoming promotions, or the book launch and signing event I want to plan later this fall. Don’t push myself to start that new challenge, but try to enjoy the feeling of floating rudderless through this phase of transition, receiving and recording whatever insights it offers me. I’m starting to believe I just might be a stronger person and better writer for this experience—I can only hope so!