For a long time, it has seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid, Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
– Fr. Alfred de Souza
Transition specialist William Bridges talked about transitions as being made up of three stages: Endings, The Neutral Zone, and New Beginnings. Right now, after nearly 8 months of adapting to life in a global pandemic, it is clear that we are all living through an intense period of personal and collective transition. Most likely, we are all still floundering in our Neutral Zone, having marked the ending of our old lives earlier in the year as the virus took hold across the world. We are still entrenched in the ‘messy in the middle’ stage. Still, for the most part, confused, uncertain and entirely unable to predict the precise nature of 2021 and beyond. Nevertheless, as new vaccines surface and vaccine trials take place, we can at least begin to sense the new possibilities of our New Beginning. We can begin to hope for a steadier sense of normality in 2022, even if 2021 is still quite a journey for us all to take.
So, now is most definitely a good time to learn to dance in the rain. To edge towards our New Beginning, micro-step by micro-step. We need to continue to draw on our inner reserves, to grow stronger, to build resilience and to learn to re-see the world today. As is so often said, the best way to predict the future is to create it yourself. Well, clearly, in these tumultuous times, we can’t necessarily predict our wider futures, but we can scope out our immediate future and start to pivot, shape and reinvent. We can’t wish away the pandemic but we can take tiny action steps towards our shared new world at an individual and community level. We can begin to emerge from the paralysis of the Neutral Zone and unproductive uncertainty. We can, and should, dare to get our dancing shoes on.
So, how can you reframe your options for 2021? How can you hone your uncertainty capabilities? Where can you shore up your resilience? Where can you dare to re-imagine a bold new future? What small steps can you take that will give you a sense of calm, agency and control?
As Victor Frankl once said, ‘Everything can be taken from us – but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way’. With that in mind, how can you emerge from the messy paralysis of the pandemic era and sharpen your attitude and inner strength? How can you reinvent your own path to a positive and productive New Beginning in 2021 and beyond?
Ready to dance?