I am in the in between.
If you’ve ever been faced with a Big Decision, making the final choice seems like the hard part. If you’re me, you spend a lot of time thinking of every possible outcome of each option. The act of this can render you paralyzed from making a choice at all.
But at last, you make one. You pick an option. You put your feet down and mark the line in the sand that directs your path moving forward. The rush is good, freeing, sometimes giddy, sometimes just a sigh of relief. You can finally tell people what you’re going to do, and you have a few days to relish the sensation of the words forming on your lips.
In a movie, a Big Decision is made like a switch getting pulled and the scene changes. The character is propelled into a completely new reality as a result of her choices. At once, the adventure is real and fully encompassing. She’s locking the door to her old apartment. She’s suddenly on the streets of New York or in a car driving toward the coast. Music plays. A montage of golden light and triumphant expressions captures it.
Sometimes things can happen that way in real life, too. But often you wake up after a few days and find yourself in the no man’s land of transition. The decision is made, but everything is not yet different. You’re in the same bed you were in three days ago. You’re making the same coffee and reading the same emails. And the sneaking feeling closes in that you now have many more decisions to make in order for the Big Decision to be made final.
I am here. I have a piece of paper that says I am released from my contractual responsibilities for a year. I have friends saying how excited they are for me. I also have a classroom with years of teaching stuff in it that belongs to me, and it needs to get cleaned out. I have a car full of boxes of about half of that stuff that’s been sitting in our driveway for days because I don’t know where to go with it. I have information that hasn’t been communicated to the person taking my place at my old job. I have a summer break that I’m technically in, yet I no longer have a position that will bring a scheduled end to that break. I also have a music project ahead of me that seems to demand that the break time be dissolved immediately, so that it’s ready to be recorded. I have people I still need to tell.
I have one foot in the new decision I’ve made, and the other suctioned in the mud of the option I left behind.
I like things to be finished. When I get an idea, like a new furniture arrangement or a better organizational system, I am consumed and do not move on to the next thing until I’ve executed it. Chris can attest to the days we’ve been making music, resting, starting to cook… and I’m suddenly dragging a couch across the floor or emptying an entire cabinet. I want the box checked, the item crossed off, the satisfaction of accomplishment.
Not everything can be like that. When we say goodbye to something we have loved, the grief is not a pushbutton to turn on and off. We don’t wake up healed and whole. We have to walk in a tangled wood of knowing the loss is real and final, yet still tying up the loose ends of it. Details we didn’t think of having to process. Our hearts learning a new identity without a piece of the old one.
I want to flip a switch and be changed. But transitions can be slow. And they are where we have to acknowledge conflicting feelings. The excitement of a new adventure. The missing of an old way of life. The wonder of what could happen next. The fear of the unknown. The nervousness of moving past a comfort zone. The reassurance of people’s blessing. The sting of others’ doubts that voice your own. The eagerness to get started. The brief terror of wanting to take it all back. The sadness of leaving. The carousel of these emotions that cycles through the hours between waking and sleeping.
I am in the in between.
I want the crossing to be quick.
But the no man’s land has things to teach me.
Photo by Andrew Spencer on Unsplash