Everything is in motion, even if Fall’s movement is towards the great sleep of winter. The transitions of nature as well as politics are particularly large at this juncture in time. So, too, are the transitions in our personal lives as we struggle to incorporate the gargantuan shift brought about by the Covid virus which, itself, keeps transitioning. (Five shots and counting….) I’ve referred to this as landing in an alternate universe many times in these last nearly-three years. There are huge examples of potential and current transitioning from the coming possibility of the permanent and deliberate destruction of the American Republic to the killing and displacement of peoples and geographies by the actions of Putin. If “nuclear” anything becomes a reality then this reality shift goes to a place that truly is unimaginable.
There are zillions of tiny losses/ shifts/ transitions in our daily lives as well, constantly updating reminders of how this is not back then—pre-Covid—when store shelves stayed stocked, when we could resupply our stash of favorite crackers, or shampoo, or even cream cheese. Now what we seek is often unavailable or simply beyond our budget. You may assign political party blame for the upwardly stratospheric cost of food and supplies. I blame the “we’ve suffered too long and will now correct our balance sheets” unrealistic greed or philosophy of capitalist business heads. The core of what will tear our government and communities apart can be described with one blanket word: inequality. I see this as global and inevitable. You cannot have such vast gaps in income disparity (which allows a median salary between worker and CEOs to be 670-to-1) without major riffs in societal structure.
For all the seriousness of this, my daily reality is brimming with transitions dictated by age and health. Despite this I’ve been looking from my car window seeing glorious Fall color the likes of which I’ve not seen in years. What a lovely visual of transition; losing oneself in beauty is balm for troubled thoughts. We each age differently and many of us who used genetics to forecast our futures are getting big surprises—in both directions. The reasons are too vast to name so we live with, or die with, our own unknowns. The bow shot of Covid has been “you just never know”.
My pressing question these days is “How do we transition gracefully?”. I’ve entered a new stage of shedding stuff. The excesses of my physical life gave way for a desire to hone things down to basics. Throughout this process one difference that age is bringing to this process is to stay aware that memory is often related to and triggered by objects of meaning. It will be easier if I can limit this to the small stones and shells I gathered in my travels, each with a memory of the circumstances of their gathering along with the trace memory of joy in the structure of small things of nature. I asked permission of the rocks before they ended up in my pocket (nearly always). Now they are my treasures along with two other categories of sacred things: writings (such as letters or journals) and photographs. Each of these are unique to each person and both further this discussion of transitions by offering direct proof. I struggle with the accoutrements of living. How do I know if I will need pots and glassware and linens if I have no idea of what comes next in terms of geography or circumstance. These are Whew-Transitions looming large and often unfathomable. One step at a time knowing the truth of what a long ago roommate said “All decisions are made with too little information.”
Not one of us is free of continual transition; Covid or not, politics or not, this awareness was always with us even when we were not brave enough to see it. How do we navigate when it engulfs us?