Life is a constant transition. From day to night, sleeping to awakening, birth to death, before to after, the rhythm of Transition beats in the background of our destiny. But can we see that rhythm? Can we hear it? Can we pay attention to the beat of transition in our life in the same way that we pay attention to our heartbeat?
We Transition when we are born. When we become an adult. When we marry. When we become parents. When we find and step into our purpose. When we change careers or jobs. When we lose someone close to us. When we die. Even companies and countries go through Transition. Everytime we experience many of the symptoms and growth of Transition as individuals or as a collective.
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As I went through a profound Transition in my life in past years, and witnessed many Transitions in the corporate world and with close friends, I realized and learned that Transitions hold something very sacred in them. They hold a mystery connection to all other human beings. They hold a key to a deeper knowing of ourselves. That we can't find without going through those Transitions. They hold a connection to our core, our soul. But most importantly they hold an opportunity to jump-leap into a new birth: a new "I".
In many ancient and traditional societies, the big Transitions are celebrated, honored, respected, taught, explained, embraced. They are often called Rites of Passage. "Rite" reminds us of a long heritage, lineage of tradition. One that connects us to our ancestors, our family, and our fellow human brother and sisters. A sacred connection. Passages are an entrance, or, a before, during and an after. We experience in those Passages the most profound transformations which will allow us to become, to "be–come," or to come into being as I like to see it. We pass into Being in a Sacred Way.
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Let's talk about the steps.
1. First there is a before.
The moment where we are not yet ready. We are just almost ready. Ripe. Worthy. Scared. Hesitant. Shy. Terrified. A before where the comfort of the knowing of what is, seems more interesting than the jumping into the unknown. It's a moment when we often know that this "before" is ineluctably dying yet we want to hold to it. It's probably a moment to say goodbye to the "old us" to make sure we acknowledge what was, what is, as it won't be. The baby ready to be born in the womb. Warm. Comfy. Fed. Safe. The child, protected by his parent, at home, not yet the independent adult. The single person with the "freedom" of not having a husband/wife/partner to take care of. The husband/wife not yet having kids and free of that responsibility. The worker well comforted in his job that he knows "too" well but his Heart craving for something "else." In each and every case, something is telling us it's time. A deep voice inside our Soul is calling. It's time to grow. Time to change. Time to enter our next Rite of Passage. Time to Transition.
2. And so we are in It now.
Very often it's painful. It's the unknown. There are tears. There is sweat. There are screams. There is blood. There are fears. We are in the depth of the Transition. Excitement and fear mixed, tears and joy, fears & hope. Moments of total clarity, moments of total darkness. We can't go back, we have to go forward, yet it's painful. We are facing the unknown. We have to cross the sea. We have to climb the mountain. Very often we stumble, we fall, we turn back, we hesitate. A voice is calling us, yet we have free will. We have to go deeper to find the truth. We have to walk our Path.
If we are prepared and taught about those Rites of Passage, those Transitions, we are stronger and we probably have a tribe to help us. We have guides and teachers. We have shoulders to lean on and hands to hold. But in the West, in today's world, it's rarely the case. We are often alone. Often ashamed. So the pain, the tears, the sweat, the blood, the fears can become bigger than they should be. We have to touch the truth of the Transition. It's Essence. Which means not turning back until we have heard, known and seen that place of knowledge where there is clarity. Why it happened. Why we are here. Where we are going. The journey to the place where we surrender and embrace fully who we are, in the here and the now. The journey to Grace.
It's the place we can see at the end of the Passage. We are now ready. We have learned. We have died.
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3. In the last part of Transition we come out. We are reborn. We are stronger. And all make sense.
All the pieces of the puzzle we could not clearly understand are now all falling into place. And as we look at the image it makes, it’s beautiful. It is perfect. It's divinely orchestrated. Our tribe, community, friends, family, have traditionally been there to celebrate with us. They show the youngest examples of how brave and courageous the men and women are who have gone through their own Rites of Passage. We might have lost some friends along the way. Some might not recognize us, those who can't "find us" on the other side. They might say, "we have changed" when in fact we have died and we are reborn. They might just see your face is different, but they often feel you are different inside, something shifted, changed. Very often after we transition people close to us will think they don't understand us anymore, because they are trying to find the one who has died… Instead of celebrating and rejoicing with the one who is reborn. Very often a new tribe will rise around the new You.
In today's world, Transitions are under-acknowledged. Or they are not seen as Sacred; meaningful, transformative and initiatory. Very often in the Passages there are very few we can ask for real guidance. We have to stay strong. We have to stay happy. We have to stay calm. We are asking men to be supermen and women to be superwomen. We are asked to be invincible. That's not only a utopic wish, but I think it is a dangerous one. Dangerous because Transitions can create separation where we have to deal with life on our own, or with very limited support. Dangerous because it builds the false belief that being strong all the time is the way to be. Dangerous because a world that does not acknowledge individual pain, does not acknowledge the Truth about our humanity. Dangerous because it closes our Heart to others, and, to ourselves. Dangerous because we remove the Sacred from our life, to transform it into a mere mechanical succession of events. We become "harder," more alone, more acting from fear than from Love, a body disconnected from its heart and from its Spirit.
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Let's create a new model. Let's create a society where individuals talk, share and honor Transition. Let's build a society where in every family, every school, every university, every organization and every government, we create a space of vulnerability. A space of learning, support and growth for all. A space where we understand the before, during and after of Transitions. A space where organizations find their Soul, their mission, their purpose by connecting everyone's Heart together. A sacred space where we can speak from our Heart, safely. A place where men and women can laugh and cry all together, as equals. A place where superman be a fictional hero on TV, not a character each of us is asked to become.
I pledge to bring back Rites of Passage in the West, where each and everyone of us understand that the true Hero is the one we are seeing in the mirror every morning, so that men or women that are courageously getting ready to Transition, can do so proudly and fiercely. Scared but supported. In all their beauty, in all their Grace.
This post originally appeared on GauthreauGroup.com