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  • Ann Werner

Transition through a Squinted Frame

My bed is a wondrous thing!

And yet this morning I am tossed by indecision – do I oblige the urgent pull of the day’s routine or recline, complacent and unravel dreams?

Today I stayed; and as I rolled over and looked through the window, I saw our beautiful Flame Tree.

Its blossoms were opening hotly red towards the sun and I tilted my head, aligning the leaves and stems and new shoots. Squinting, they framed themselves between the blinds and small cameos created themselves, as different patterns and figures emerged:

I see one of those games we played at old school fetes; a fishing rod with a horse-shoe magnet on one end; and the splayed tail fin of the fish swimming downwards away, away, not knowing that its irresistibly-matched attraction allows for easy prey!

I see an apostrophe – just hanging, waiting to belong?

There’s some scrum engagement and the incongruous centrepiece, adjacent, should really have been framed on its own.

And then, I see a fox …. paused…waiting to leap? Her back’s not in it, but it looks like her head is and her front paw; there seems to be some ambivalence and it made me think of an article I had read:

‘The Parable of the Trapeze’ by Danaan Parry (Warriors of the Heart)

“Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or for a few moments in my life, I’m hurtling across space in between trapeze bars.

Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze-bar-of-the-moment. It carries me along at a certain steady rate of swing and I have feeling that I’m in control of my life. I know most of the right questions and even some of the answers.

But, every once in a while, as I’m merrily (or not so merrily) swinging along, I look out ahead of me into the distance and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging towards me. It’s empty and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this “new trapeze bar” has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart-of-hearts I know that, for me to grow, I must release my grip on the present, well-known bar to move to the new one.

Each time it happens to me, I hope (no I pray) that I won’t have to let go of my old bar completely before I grab the new one. But in my knowing place, I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar and for some moment in time, I must hurtle across space before I can grab onto the new bar.

Each time I am filled with terror. It doesn’t matter that in all my previous hurtles across the void of unknowing, I have always made it. I am each time afraid that I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless chasm between bars. I do it anyway. Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience. No guarantees, no net, no insurance policy, but you do it anyway because somehow to keep hanging on to that old bar is no longer on the list of alternatives. So, for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of “the past is gone, the future is not yet here”.

It’s called “transition”.

I have come to believe that this transition is the only place that real change occurs. I mean real change, not the pseudo-change that only lasts until the next time my old buttons get punched.

I have noted that, in our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as a “no-thing”, a no-place between places. Sure, the old trapeze bar was real, and that new one coming towards me, I hope that’s real too. But the void between? Is that just a scary, confusing, disorienting nowhere that must be gotten through as fast and as unconsciously as possible? NO!

What a wasted opportunity that would be! I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing and the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid the void where the real change, the real growth occurs for us. Whether or not my hunch is true, it remains that the transition zones in our lives are incredibly rich places. They should be honoured, even savoured.

Yes, with all the pain and fear and feelings of being out of control that can (but not necessarily) accompany transitions, they are still the most alive, most growth-filled, passionate, expansive moments in our lives.

So, transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away but rather with giving ourselves permission to “hang out” in the transition between trapeze. Transforming our need to grab that new bar, any bar, is allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens. It can be terrifying. I can also be enlightening in the true sense of the word.

Hurtling through the void, we just may learn how to fly.”

Parry gets to the soft and fearful heart of transition and so aptly describes what many change theorists describe as the ‘danger zone’; that place where we hover and seemingly eternally swing backwards and forwards. We resist our passion - that red-hot opening to the sun - and yet we balk at the thought of remaining in a place of loss, doubt and discomfort.

But we can be pulled towards a place of hope into the realm of possibilities, of discovery, of making peace, of accepting and of integrating a newness, some shift, a long-desired plan or action.

We can appraise; we can review; we can even tilt our heads and squinting, gain a new perspective?

Pondering… a pregnant ‘what if’ breaks the surface of uncertainty and gulping in great breaths of air, we resist the naysayers and immerse ourselves in the profound truth of our new thoughts and desired actions.

And so, from this orbit of wonder and awe; of possibilities and dreams we harness our energy into movement - that life giving forward momentum:

Change models are most useful and practical in providing the steps to make the changes possible, as the diagram below presents:

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1) Once there is insight and intention, set your goals wisely, compassionately and with realistic timing for accountability (including some contingency plans along the way);

This is the big picture … this describes the intention

2) Looking at the nitty gritty/ the coal face/ the reality, allows the necessary investigation to plan how to move from point A to point B. What is the strategy? What are the obstacles or stumbling blocks? What are the priorities? What do we need to action first to allow for our plans to dovetail and co-operate?

Perhaps there’s something deeper getting in the way of everything?

3) Changing has a lot more to do with head space initially than action. It’s about thinking and more thinking; it’s about questioning and about puzzling over things and looking at alternatives; it’s a holistic drawing from a myriad of resources.

4) Set a goal; commit to starting; commit to persevering; commit to achieving.

Most of all, honour your truth, your word, your intention.

5) If it’s useful, find someone to help you.

Within the rigors of structure and the dependable nature of regulated (disciplined) and planned tasks, we can move to a greater place of freedom. And within this freedom we can delve deeper into our own self-understanding and perhaps hear ourselves for the first time.

We can begin to identify the patterns and shapes of our lives.

We can discern, and then discard or develop.

And with this new-found independence we can create our own cameos; we can find our stage and transition into all we wish to become.

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