I envision Songaia kind of at the peak of the transition state, between the individualism of the mainstream way of living and the full potential of established community living. This full potential may not be possible in our current economy, maybe not even until we change the broader culture of judgment and blame and competition that is so at odds with our striving towards togetherness. But the fact that this community has thrived so well in the midst of “currently existing capitalism” is to me a great source of hope for what is possible.
Some wisdom I picked up from the Rite of Passage Journeys receiving ceremony a couple weeks ago has stuck with me. For the youths who were returning home, the transition to adulthood was happening whether they and their families recognized and embraced it or not. So a main purpose of the program is to bring intention to the transition, without which families often end up on autopilot, subconsciously resisting the changes that they consciously know have to happen.
Sometimes I am dismayed at how our inclination to resist change and conserve energy can work against us. I am beginning to appreciate how important mindfulness and intention can be, as if they are a catalyst in a chemical reaction, decreasing the height of the energy barrier during our transitions.
But the difficulty of accepting change can still sneak up on us. To transition from one trajectory to another, to allow ourselves to be influenced in our thinking and then to examine and adjust and our actions can be a humbling experience. The energy needed to cross over the transition state and follow through with the change can be surprisingly high…
Blackberry season is in full swing, and for the whole two months I’ve been here, Songaia has been blessed with berries. I’ve spent some quality time harvesting raspberries, golden raspberries, native blackberries, salmonberries, currants, white currants, jostaberries, and blueberries. Most of the time I’m pretty good at going for the ripest berries, but sometimes I’ll find a berry that I think is ripe and I’ll try to pick it, only to find that it doesn’t want to come off the bush yet. Depending on how hard I’ve worked to reach this berry and how sure I am that it’s the right color and squishiness, my response may vary. Sometimes I find it surprisingly difficult to accept the information that the berry is giving me: “I’m not ready yet!” Sometimes I want to believe that I know better than the berry, and engage in a tug-of-war. On the occasions that I win, I am usually disappointed by a sour, unripe berry.
I’ve had this experience many times. And the practice of transitioning from a sense of certainty about picking a particular berry to accepting that I was wrong and leaving it for another day can still be surprisingly hard, even when I approach most berries with more of a question of ripeness and a willingness to listen to the berry.
Maybe it’s a silly example, though, especially when so many of the changes we are facing come with real grief. Our planet is getting hotter and smokier and more uncertain, and even though this doesn’t mean there won’t be unexpected beauty and healing yet to come, we are losing the climate that we’ve known.
For a while, actually, I was craving change. But I may have slightly underestimated the challenges associated with the changes I’ve brought into my life. There is very little that is familiar to me now, here, in this new place; and even if what is familiar didn’t serve me well, I’m feeling the need for a deeper level of processing. Not only have my living situation, daytime activities, hobbies, and future career plans all shifted radically in the last several months, but as of only four years ago I changed my gender as well. For those of you with whom I haven’t shared this already, I am a transgender male, and I spent my first 25 years living as female. Between the hormone therapy, overcoming depression, and beginning treatment for ADHD, my life is pretty unrecognizable from the way it’s been for most of the last 15 years.
These are probably things that I should be sharing with a therapist and not in a blog post. But suffice it to say, I’ve experienced a thing or two about living in transition. It’s exciting, scary, unexpectedly exhausting, and unexpectedly wonderful. Personally, I am certain that the new life I’m stepping in to will be much more energetically favorable than my old way of living—and much better aligned with my purpose and gifts. And hopefully, with a little recognition of both the hard work we’re faced with and our capacity for resilience, we can mourn and dream and create and move into the next phase of life with the assurance that even though a lot of it may be new, we just might be okay.