ALICE by Shel Silverstein
She drank from a bottle called DRINK ME
And up she grew so tall,
She ate from a plate called TASTE ME
And down she shrank so small
And so she changed, while other folks
Never tried nothin’ at all
There are three sure things in life, Taxes, Death, and Transitions. We all go through them on a regular basis, whether we are aware of them or not. And I’m categorizing transitions with taxes and death not because I think they are bad, but on the contrary. I think transitions are too often too good to be understood. Even more often, they create unnecessary stress and frustration. A teaching that helped me stay connected and balanced during my last transition came from the Buddhist teacher Trungpa Rinpoche, who says, “We are always in transition.” According to Rinpoche, pain is an inevitable part of life; the only way to stop it is by staying with it and accepting the changes, not letting the illusion of fixed identity dictate what is right or wrong in your life.
My story of transition is the moving of our MH from Oakland to Berkeley. The un-dreamable dream--finding a 5 bedroom place, near Bart, in a safe spot, in the center of Berkeley--did not happen. We couldn’t find anything near what we were looking for, so we had to compromise and go to live in the Berkeley hills, which by all accounts is not bad, but also not centered at all. The house is located very high up a steep hill, far from Bart (our subway system), and other regular public transportation. However, it has turned out to be an amazing experience living in such proximity to forests and parks. And yes, our community is still coming and growing with us in our new location. So again, our fear of transition was unreal and a non-productive agent for us.
The challenge of transitions in general is that often we can’t see the benefits of the change before we make it. However, we must remember from experience that change also yields unexpected gifts. One of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Pema Chodron, teaches: "We suffer when we resist the noble and irrefutable truth of impermanence.” We are trying to cling to permanence and security, but those do not exist. True peace can come only when we learn to embrace the uncertainty and stay present with the changes we experience. Only then are we fully open to all of its gifts. This is a lifetime process, especially when we dealing with big choices like moving our house to a new place.
When we dream alone, it is just a dream. When we share our dream with others, we change the world.