Reading Now / by Anne Kreamer

Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes. I read William Bridges book years ago when I was in a period of professional reinvention after leaving the corporate world.  In rereading it as research for my next book, I was gratified to discover that it remained as lucid and relevant today as it was when first published over a quarter century ago.  For anyone in the midst of change, and who among us is not, it is an essential primer.  Here are a few excerpts: "Why is letting go so difficult?"

"For some people, these times of change and renewal always seem to involve new relationships, but for others they involve new places or projects.  For still others, it is some new state of mind that appears first, a new feeling or self-image or goal.  Sometimes the beginning results from careful and conscious effort, but for most people important new beginnings have a mysterious and sometimes accidental quality to them.  That is interesting because most of us think we ought to 'take charge' of our lives and 'plan carefully' when we're trying to start again after an ending.  As we shall see later, most of us do that prematurely, for our most important beginnings take place in the darkness outside our awareness."

"The most important fact is not that there are one or three or four or six identifiable periods of crisis in a lifetime; rather, adulthood unfolds its promise in an alternating rhythm of expansion and contraction, change and stability.  In human life as in the rest of nature, change accumulates slowly and almost invisibly until it is made manifest in the sudden form of fledging out or thawing or leaf-fall."

"Sometimes the transition seems to rise up from inside -- a wave of boredom directed at things they used to find interesting or a mistrust of things they used to believe in wholeheartedly; at other times, the transition is precipitated by eternal changes -- either in their personal lives or in the organizations where they work.  Either way, people usually try to put things back the way they used to be.  If the transition is significant, however, that isn't likely to work."

"The task is to find the connection between the change in your work or career and the underlying developmental rhythm of your life."

"One of the difficulties of being in transition in the modern world is that we have lost our appreciation for this gap in the continuity of existence.  For us, 'emptiness' represents only the absence of something.  So when what's missing is something as important as relatedness and purpose and reality, we try to find ways of replacing these missing elements as quickly as possible."

"Not in his goals but in his transitions man is great. Ralph Waldo Emerson."