There are times in every person’s life that are transforming.  They can be triggered by emotions, events, or age-related milestones – read, desperation, death of a loved one, or turning 18, for example. When these milestones appear in our lives – or we draw them to us – we have a lot of choices.

We can choose to cave in and cower.  We can choose to run away.  We can choose to adopt a victim mentality that may well define the rest of our lives. We can choose to make dramatic changes in our lives in terms of our location, relationships, and direction; sometimes those changes are well considered and sometimes they are knee-jerk reactions. I think regardless of how we approach those changes, they are essential to the process of completing whatever transformation we are undergoing.

Most of the time, we do not experience this transformation in some sort of isolation chamber.  As we are struggling through it, and gasping for air, our inner panic (or lack of peace), and flailing through life will impact those around us. We may hurt people we love by whacking them with our wildly revolving selves.  It’s not intentional, but yes, it happens.

And here’s where we can still have conscious choices, no matter where we are in the transformation process.  When we hurt someone, they have every right to say something about it, even if they understand what we are going through.  They may even say something that hurts us in return – not because they want to hurt us, because remember, they love us, but because they are speaking their pain.  If we care for that person, we listen. We have a dialogue. We do not just turn and say, “How could you say that?  Don’t ever speak to me again.” In short, we do not burn our bridges. That is, if we are seeking the path of wisdom, which I am.  Which many of us are.  We do not turn away from those who have long shown their humanness and devotion, from those who have shown themselves worthy of being a part of our lives, standing by us through thick and thin and all the meat-slicer settings in between.

As part of the path to wisdom, we apologize.  We explain. We ask for patience. We take off our own blinders of pain and shame and guilt and anger at who-knows-what, and know that when we do so, our true friends will be right in front of us, arms extended, there for support, because we are not alone in this journey.  Even though in some ways, we always are, and in other ways, we must be. 

Again, it’s a choice. Leave the blinders on. Put the old life in a trunk, wrap it in chains, and send it to the bottom of the sea.  Start over pretending you have a clean slate.  I’ll wish you the best of luck, because you’ll need it.  Or leave the doors open.  Be gentle with yourself and others, because we’re all human. Take breaths and realize who is true to you and worth your spirit.  Go back to the rules of kindergarten.  I think one of those was “Don’t play with matches.” The adult version is, “For god’s sake, don’t set anything on fire.”

Transform, yes.  But not by the light of the bridges you burn.

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