Wednesday, September 01, 2004

September 2004 - Transitions

Absolutely no getting away from transitions in life. Even a stone so many million years old sometimes gets picked up to edge a rock garden or to be put into a wall. We have many more feelings than that stone!

Attitudes towards upcoming transitions can vary from joyful anticipation to feelings of dread & terror. We might have a mixture of these feelings, or vacillation between extremes. Is it true that...? Will it be wonderful? Will it be terrible? Will working hard crack & solve any difficulties?

Advice is forthcoming in all the helpful magazines. Have a good night's sleep. Wear clothes you're comfortable in. Eat a good breakfast, or at least have something to drink. Learn all you can about the situation
you're about to enter. Make a list. Think positively. Greet everyone with a smile.

Actually everyday brings transitions, minor or major. You or a friend are moving; a new baby is born; the street in front of your house is dug up; a new school year starts; a visitor leaves with the enthralling book
you're reading; someone is in the hospital with a broken leg - or a terminal disease; a big storm changes your plans; conversation with neighbors & repair people requires you to learn some Czech.

About two o'clock one afternoon in our early years here I was writing to an English friend [This was Neil]: "We are usually exhausted by mid-afternoon. Six strange things will have happened. Today we already have our quota, so I still have energy to write to you." At that point I was interrupted while three more strange things began to
happen! First, we were asked to make a phone check for a neighbor without a phone who had been tricked by other neighbors, who disliked him, into believing that his brother was at death's door in the
hospital. [Stanek] [His brother was really staying with a drinking buddy.]
Then a friend, grandchild in tow, arrived to say she needed to sell family goods, & that her husband might be very ill & what could we do about these problems? I made coffee; provided paper hankies. My
husband listened to her story. Finally, we had to chase away a couple rough guys who tried to come inside to look around for furniture they could buy.

Recently our 2 1/2 year old granddaughter was very well prepared for the birth of her baby sister, but I began to perceive she believed that
carefully not bonding closely with me, would prevent her mother from leaving for the hospital. On the actual morning that mother & daddy were gone she was amazingly calm. It was not nearly as bad as she'd imagined - her house was still there, her Elmo, her breakfast, her wading pool. Soon daddy came home to tell her about her new little sister with whom she is very gentle & sweet.

A new experience I had while in the States was taking a friend sightseeing in Boston, where I'd only ever spent several days, & that years ago, & they've dug up lots of Boston since then. Discussing restaurants with my son-in-law, picking up some maps of Boston, & having a cell phone made the excursion nearly painless. My friend & I greatly enjoyed our day eating at the Union Oyster House, visiting Paul Revere's house, & talking with people in Boston's North End.

Magazine advice is not all bad, but I'd like to add a few things. Grin & Be Grateful. Do not add Gritting Teeth to this, or you will have to find a dentist before you are settled with your other changes. You may kick the door - if it's strong enough - or, better, dance around the room. For twenty minutes or so, dance, & avoid looking at the remaining things to be done. Next, so many Prague churches are open through the day. Sit in a church. You are not allowed to kick the pews, but you may pray. This needn't be a "nice" prayer; freely list all your complaints. Then, just sit. Finally realize that your perceptions are greatly heightened right now because of your new situation. Take advantage of this. Get a notebook, and begin to jot down things you notice - strange experiences in moving, a few lines about interesting people seen in your daily trek to & from the school or the hospital or your new job, or a complete description of the progress of the road diggers as observed from your window.

Nevertheless you miss the book your guest walked off with?? IWAP office will sell you another book - possibly even a copy of the same one you were reading. Profits to charity.