I am back. I have had a long period when I did not post, August until now. No excuses, I just didn’t write. But now I am back. I have some new projects going, and maybe along the way I will have some thoughts that are worth posting.
I’ll be back real soon, probably my next post will be about my adventure into building the systems to roast a whole hog.
If there is nothing else you understand about life, you should know that there are places and times when things change. It is in these places and times when you make decisions that will direct you until you reach the next.
At the confluence of two bodies of water, there is a seam that marks the point where the waters begin mixing. Usually there is a clear difference either in water color or temperature when the two first touch and the distinctiveness of this seam fades as the two waters begin to mix. If you ever find this seam, you should fish it, because that is where things are usually happening.
You see the same thing all over nature, seams that mark the change from one thing to another. If you are looking at a field that is returning from farm to forest, there is an area where they meet called “edge”. It is an area of neither field nor forest, and it is the place where life is more diverse, often more abundant and more interesting.
We also have seams in our clothes, you know, those areas where the sewing is done to keep the parts together. How well these seams are done is often the determiner of the quality of the garment. You could probably say that they are what determines if the clothes are going to be a good fit, or not.
In life, we have similar transition points or seams. We have the first day of school, the start of summer vacation, switching from elementary to middle school and then to high school. You know, those transition points when it seams that life is going to turn upside down until we go through it.
As we move toward and through adulthood there are also periods of time when we transition from one phase of life to another. These seams are often turbulent, stress filled times in which we make decisions and changes that could have huge impacts on how we live our lives from that moment forward. Usually there is an increase in responsibility after one of these changes, but sometimes there is a reduction of responsibility. To better understand this, let’s take a look at keys.
What exactly is a key. It is a mechanism for controlling who has access to what and in what way. It is the basis for allowing someone access to or use of something. It is the thing that controls the lock. In short, it is an outward sign of responsibility.
In my life, I can look to specific times when the change in keys was highly visible and it related to what was going on in my life at the time. The first marked change was when I graduated from high school. Up until that point in time, I had slowly accumulated keys. I had a key to the house, a key to my car, and maybe a key to a locker. Not a lot of responsibility. Suddenly, I went off to college.
At this point, there was no loss of keys, just a new and rapid accumulation of keys. I had keys to a dorm, and a dorm room. I still had keys to home and car, and even though these keys were seldom used, they still marked a level of responsibility. I suddenly had quite a few keys. When I got a job as a resident assistant, it came with a key to get access to the “jailers key ring”, and that had keys to everything. Everything. There must have been 20 or 30 keys on that key ring, and we would carry that set of keys with us as we made rounds through the dorm. I used to shake the jailer’s ring as I walked so people knew I was coming. I didn’t want to have the responsibility for having to stop someone from doing something stupid, so I let them know I was coming. It was a good arrangement.
Then I graduated college. No dorm keys, no house keys, just one key and that was to my car. I also had no plans, no vision for where I was going and no real need to know what was ahead. I had a year to “kill” while my future wife finished up college and we could start accumulating keys together. Do you see where this is going? More keys, more responsibility, less keys means less responsibility. Later, when you get that apartment key, or that house key that you have to pay the mortgage on, then the responsibility goes up way fast. That house key is a killer load of responsibility.
So let’s go back and take a look at the points when you have the least amount of keys. This is interesting times because freedom from responsibilities means that you have the freedom to make decisions about what you want to do. Just like the animals and fish are drawn to the seams, we are too because that is where opportunities happen. There is a world of opportunity at these times, because you don’t have keys to make decisions for you. The world is your fishbowl just waiting for you to decide what you want to do.
When you first finish high school, you are in one of these magical times. You are faced with a multitude of choices that are seemingly being carried right in front of your face just waiting for you to reach out and grab one. Are you going to travel, get a job, go to college, or just sit around and wait for decisions to be made for you? This is the time to be adventurous, a time to set your path in such a way that you will be able to do interesting things.
If that decision you make is to go to college, you will be blessed with another opportunity to drop off one set of keys and make decisions about what you are going to do with your life before you start adding more keys. I was talking to a person I know professionally last week and he said, “I started to work on the Monday after I graduated. That was the stupidest thing I ever did.” Essentially, what he was saying is that he grabbed a hold of the first thing that floated by and it dragged him immediately into the current and filled his hands with keys. He is now a very successful person, but he never got that time to go out and just move about life unencumbered by keys.
As a college professor, I work daily with young adults (and older adults) who are approaching that magical seam that comes when you graduate from college. Unfortunately, most of them are carrying a heavy debt load from student loans, so the window for them to play within their seam is usually limited to about 6 months. But, when they ask me for my advice, I tell them to take advantage of this time when you are free from the responsibilities that will start making decisions for you. Usually I suggest they travel. Go some place you have never been, see things you won’t get to see and do things you won’t get to do once you have passed through this seam. These are the transitions that allow us to make decisions that can lead us toward exciting lives. They are the chance for us to slip into the current, dance the dance of life and do the things that will carry us through the mundane periods of life between transitions. Many of us don’t take advantage of these opportunities. But we should.
There is one other of these transitions that comes much later in life, that is when we shed our careers and the keys that come with them, and transition into the age of retirement. I haven’t reached that one yet, but you can bet that my wife and I are going to swim into that one with gusto. I have been told that divorce is another one, but I’m not going to get the chance to experience that one.
Then of course, there is the last one when we give up all of our keys and we enter into the biggest seam of all and give up the last of our responsibilities whether we want to or not. I hope that I have the ability to enter that transition knowing that I have done well with everything has come before, and with the peace of knowing I am ready for that transition.
In the mean time, live life the best you can and don’t be afraid to do something big with your transitions.