There are times in our lives when our need or desire for change is stronger than our habits and comforts, or even more powerful than the anxiety we have about the unknown. We have all encountered those times. Sometimes we faced them with fear; sometimes with fury at being forced by people or circumstances onto a new path. And, incredibly, sometimes, we danced our way into a new part of our lives with anticipation and joy. We may have even felt all of those feelings at the same time!
The important question we face is not: “How will we handle change if we have to do that?” The question is: “How will we manage change when the time comes?” The one thing we know for sure is that life will require us to change. Our bodies will change; so will our plans, ideas, friends, and expectations. Life guarantees this truth whether we like it or not.
Despite the pressure of modern society to leap quickly into something new when our circumstances or feelings change, there is older wisdom in our healing and spiritual traditions that teaches a different process. The Equation for Transformation by Meredith Little and Steven Foster, summarizes a deep and sustaining process of change that can help us journey through our lives without having to constantly repeat or revisit lessons we are struggling to learn. The three steps sound simple, but they are rich with feelings and possibilities:
The work of the first step is to sort through our past beliefs and belongings in order to clear space for something new. After the hard work of endings in the first step, we find ourselves in the quiet of the second step where we learn to wait. We wait for clarity; we wait for seeds to sprout; we wait for the door to open into our new chapter.
Whether we chose our new road with excitement or were catapulted into our new lives by challenges and difficulties we could not control, it takes hard work, as well as patience, courage and honesty to do the first two steps of the Equation for Transformation. But if we have done the work, we can feel the shift as we move from the dark, inner place of waiting into the light of visible change and activities.
There is real mystery here. What changed? How did it happen? We have no easy answers to these questions. For some, a new idea comes as a bolt of lightning; for others, it’s a gradual graying of the dark. We could be someone for whom change evolves over time or we might find an idea has bloomed overnight while we slept.
And what does a new beginning mean to each of us? It could be tangible, like a new job or a new relationship, but it could also be finding ourselves with a new attitude or ready for a new way of life. We might feel lighter and less encumbered or, conversely, more deeply rooted and involved in something we care about passionately. This complexity makes the work of the Equation for Transformation a rich, unique journey for each of us.
Will all our questions be answered? Will we live happily ever after? Will everything be perfect now? Of course not, we know that, but if we have commitment and patience, we can give meaning and power to our journey. When we are able to do that we may look back and see that we are happier than we were before. We may also look forward with more hope than we ever imagined.
Adapted from: Women & Middlehood: Halfway Up the Mountain by Jane Treat & Nancy Geha Ed.D. www.middlehood.com