On the surface, I get the appeal of highlighting moments that signal a stark separation between recent ends and new beginnings. Enduring long enough to realize those separating moments can make them feel like monumental achievements. For instance, a dissertation defense. A cross-country move. A new job. A new relationship. Another calendar year. (According to some metrics, that’s a relatively comprehensive synopsis of my own life over the past two and a half years.)
Living in those moments, the experience of transition often feels more excitingly palpable and present than other stretches of life – a time of change invites that unique mixture of reflection about what is and has been and hope for what is yet to become. It encourages letting go of hang-ups and moving on – unburdened – from the challenges we have (or have not quite yet) overcome. And the opportunity appears ripe to set out into a still unknown future, which, thanks to the sheer quality of going from something-already into something-not-quite-yet, we often intentionally orient ourselves as if moving through doors that open onto an even more open possible future.
Despite the inherent uncertainty, the utter lack of anything remotely close to a promise that things will work out with some degree of goodness, success, joy, or prosperity, we tend to value times of transition like we value the seasonal emergence of spring out of winter – it’s a moment for hope to override cynicism and for us to envision the possibility of more metaphorical sunshine, blossoming trees, and clearer skies.
However, technically speaking, as sure as the sun falls and rises, it also rises and falls. The summer also turns to autumn and then cold and darkness descend as winter. These, too, are times of change.