It’s a life of transitions we’re living. No matter what we do, where we are, who we’re with – we know it’s all just temporary. And maybe that helps. Maybe that opens up new ways we wouldn’t dare to set foot on if we knew we’d have to stick with them. Maybe it does give us the freedom to see and try and experiment and simply figure things out as we get there. But maybe that’s also the biggest struggle: Getting there. Getting where, anyways? It’s all just temporary. One transition after the other. So what happens when we’re “there”? And would we actually even realize? Wouldn’t we be too caught up in the next step, the next project, the next goal? Aren’t there too many places to go to to actually ever really arrive?
Wow. That got very abstract very quickly. So here’s a real-life example, my very own little sequence of transitions: When I was in high school, I always counted the minutes until the current lesson would end. I counted the days until the next weekend, the weeks until the next holidays, the months until summer and the years until graduation. I was never really there, in the present, in the moment (which might also be because it was a horrible place to be at, but that’s a whole other story).
I always thought of my time at school as something I would have to “get through” in order to be able to start “real life”. I firmly believed everything would be better once this was be over. And to be honest, it was. At least for a couple of months. But everything wasn’t necessarily better by nature, but because I was different. I didn’t just wait for time to pass day after day anymore. I just lived and enjoyed. I was just there. And that was enough. Enough to be happy and free and maybe a little mindless. I didn’t think about the next episode of my life, even though I was subconsciously aware that at some point it would come. And it did, because of course, as always, it was all just temporary.
So after a few months of carelessness, it started all over again. New place, new job, new life – just for a little while, just until I could do what I actually wanted to do. Until I could and realized that wasn’t really what I wanted to do. At all. So “Abort mission. Go travel. Figure stuff out.” Nice try, but nope. Didn’t quite bring me the clarity I was looking for. So I went home. Which I knew would definitely not help either, but it was just for a little while, right? Just a couple of days, weeks maybe. Just another in-between thing. And before I knew it, I was gone again to yet at another place with yet another job and yet another life – which I knew was only going to be temporary. And there, in the middle of 60-hour work weeks, way too little sleep and way too much alcohol, I had to figure out what to do with my life. Well, guess what: That also didn’t work out too well. So what followed was another year of waiting, topped with confusion, regret and heartache. Yepp, that was fun. NOT. But nevermind, I survived. Because I knew none of it was gonna last. It was just another time of transition. From what to what, I could not say, but at least somewhere in this mess, I did actually figure out what I wanted to do and went for it.
And before I knew it, there I was: starting a whole new chapter which I at this point thought would be frighteningly long. Well, it wasn’t. And it was actually 4 chapters. In the first one, without even noticing it, I arrived. I was finally “there”. In the right place at the right time. So, smart as I am, in chapter two, I left. For another time of transition, mostly spent waiting for it to be over and go back to chapter 1. Which in chapter 3 I realized was impossible. Geographically I could – and eventually did – but in time? Not so much. So there was no point of being there altogether anymore. It wasn’t the same, it didn’t make sense. Which is probably why I very desperately waited for chapter 4, where I could leave again. And so I did: Left to “live the dream”, at least for a little while. But once again, I knew it would be over soon. And the duties from the future slowly creeping up reminded me that I shouldn’t get too comfortable, because it was yet another time of transition.
And now, once again, here I am. Feeling like I just arrived and yet forced to think about moving on. This is just another stop on the journey, not its destination. A destination I by now doubt even exists. But hey, maybe the journey is the destination after all. Maybe life is nothing but an endless sequence of transitions.
So maybe it’s time to accept that I’ll never actually “get there”. That once I finish this paper, this semester, this degree, once I have a job and a house and a family, I’ll just come up with new stuff to strive for, new transitions to go through. Maybe I should just stop trying to get to that ideal state of having accomplished everything, because it’s nothing but an illusion. Maybe I should stop living a life where basically all I do is waiting for it to be over, where all I do is ticking off one to-do after the other. Maybe I should just stop waiting and start living. Here and now, for the sake of this very moment. Because in this life of transitions, once something’s gone, it’s gone for good.