I was carrying a lit Muskoka Candle Company candle from one part of the house to another yesterday and a memory popped into my mind: Christmas Eve service as a kid at the part when everyone in the church holds a lit candle – the plain, white kind that churches buy in bulk – and the lights are turned off.
It may have been one of my favorite times at Christmas, a moment of collective peace before we loaded back into Dad’s cold car to go home to cheese fondue and Mom and Dad’s Frank Sinatra Christmas album playing on the stereo.
I had a big extended family and my older brothers and sister married and started families when I was still living at home so there were always lots of people around at Christmas. And although I loved the days of hubbub and feasting, I now know that I am firmly in the introvert category so those moments of candlelight in Saskatoon’s Grace-Westminster United Church were, of course, magical.
Thinking about that made me feel a little better about the vast amount of time I am spending lately staring into space and thinking about nothing in particular.
Although I have lots to do, friends to text, people to call, groceries to order, somehow the whole time since we closed PGB has been a time when I can get lost in thought. I’d like to tell you that I emerge from my reveries with insightful epiphanies, but I don’t. Usually I just shake out of it and make lunch or something.
I just finished William Bridges’ terrific book about transitions called, appropriately, Transitions, Making Sense of Life’s Changes.
I last read it in 2009 between leaving the bank and starting the bakery. I was reminded on this second reading of his theory that making a “change” is, for example, finding a new job or moving from one house to another in the same general area.
A “transition”, on the other hand, is when something in us has shifted and we realize one chapter in life has closed, or some important aspect of us has shifted, and there is a brand new something or other out there.
Bridges encourages people in transition to take time to be in what he calls a neutral zone, a time when we let ourselves float apparently aimlessly. The first edition was written decades ago and his suggestion for a neutral zone time-out is to spend a few days in a strange city watching people from a park bench, clearly not contemplating a never-ending lockdown. But, I’ve decided, a neutral zone can be a sofa and a cat or two and nowhere to go.
I’d like to know where things are going – and when, please- and a neutral zone refuses to give us those answers. But my experience of it since January is that it is mostly not unpleasant…so I will go with my lost-in-thoughtness until this lockdown comes to a welcome end.