How Transition is Important in Our lives
For me success is often bound up in transition and how I have been able to handle that. What I have gained, what I have lost, and what new meanings I have found. Of the many stories in my life that illustrate this point, I think one of the most poignant is the story of a doll, lost, then found, and the new meaning that was found with her.
I had a doll version of the Disney little mermaid. Her hair was fire red, no not fire red, fire truck red. That color. I was beautiful. She had a fake mermaid tail that slipped over her legs and a lilac seashell bra. I think at some point she had a dress but I never fancied it much. For me it was her hair, and the way her human legs would emerge from her mermaid tail.
One day, I couldn’t find my little mermaid doll. I looked everywhere. My mother looked. I even forced my little sister to look. The doll was simply missing. I was heartbroken. I remember dreaming about finding her, and waking to the disappointment that reality didn’t match my dreams.
A year later, when we moved from what was supposed to be our forever home to another soon-to-be failed attempt at a forever home, a dresser was removed from the closet and there underneath was my mermaid doll. Her red hair still as brilliant as ever, her seashell bra and mermaid tail still securely on her. But when I removed her mermaid tail, two perfect legs did not emerge. One leg had been crushed in the moving process. The knee was mangled.
I found my favorite doll because my family was making a transition. And that’s the thing about transitions, they reveal that which we have buried, or lost, or forgotten about. Whether it is a break-up, or a move, or simply a psychic move, the process in never simply about moving forward, it is also about reclaiming what was lost along the way, along the other path, lost in the clutter of continued existence.
If we make an effort, we can reclaim some of those lost things, even if they might be a little damaged from misuse, neglect or worse. Maybe we broke some of them on purpose. Maybe we had so many dreams shattered by life, and circumstance, that we started to shatter our own to get a head start on the world.
What I didn’t know when I found my little mermaid doll in not-so-perfect condition, was that her broken knee would soon make her more precious to me rather than less. A few months after my move, that revealed her to me once again, a knee condition began to manifest. All the growth spurts of my age and running chasing folks on the playground resulted in the presentation of a rather large knee problem. So then, my knee was mirrored in my doll. I wasn’t alone in my brokenness. And what a joy that is, to have a companion in brokenness. To know that we are not alone. To know that when the chips are down, or some other terrible gambling analogy, that we have people who sympathize, more who empathize, that our inadequacies seem less in the presence of other inadequacies is one of the many mysteries of humanity. Yet here we are broken together.
Sometimes, when we set about moving forward we find out that what we need most is that which has been lost or discarded. Often we find this out in reverse order, where we never know what we need until we need it and oh aren’t we just so lucky because we just found it again after all this time.
And we are lucky, blessed even, because we can go back over our mental lists of skills, we can find our favorite trait that has been smothered by our current job, our current lover, or our current need for coffee. We can rescue those talents, make them useful, if not beautiful. We can use our own past to move forward and to succeed.
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