Gray zone

I’m here again. It seems I’ve been here a lot lately. And yet it’s still a challenge.

It’s a transition, a gray zone. I’ve left the shore but haven’t yet arrived on dry land. I want to reach my next destination so badly that sometimes I forget to enjoy the present. I get eager, anxious, discouraged.  

I always come back to this fantastic piece of writing by Danaan Parry, which I’ve held on to tightly for the past 7 years and read during so many times of change I could write a book about them (hey, someday I will). And each change has been bigger than the last, and each transformation greater. And they’ve all led me here, to today’s gray zone, a familiar color in a brand new shade.

This excerpt reminds me to slow down; to take one step at a time. I remember that there is no “arriving” and there is no rush. That all my other gray zones are fond memories now: the words, images, and feelings that comprise my story, the lessons and growing pains that that make me me. That one day I’ll look back and realize that these – right now – are the days that made my life.

I recall that in all other times of transition, it was trust and releasing my need to control the process that allowed me to propel forward. So what do I do when I am caught in a gray zone? When I find myself anxious and eager to land on the other side? I re-read this piece. I take a breath. I loosen my grip and try my damnedest to fly through the void.



From The Essene Book of Days by Danaan Parry

Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments in my life, I’m hurtling across space in between trapeze bars.

Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze-bar-of-the-moment. It carries me along at a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I’m in control of my life. I know most of the right questions and even some of the right answers. But once in a while, as I’m merrily (or not so merrily) swinging along, I look out ahead of me into the distance and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging towards me. It’s empty and I know, in that place in me that knows that this “new trapeze bar” has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart-of-hearts I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on the present, well-known bar to move to the next one.

Each time it happens to me, I hope (no, pray) that I won’t have to grab the new one. But in my knowing place I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar and, for some moment in time, I must hurtle across space before I can grab onto the new bar. Each time I am filled with terror. It doesn’t matter that in all my previous hurtles across the void of unknowing I have always made it. Each time I am afraid that I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless chasm between the bars. But I do it anyway. Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience. No guarantees, no net, no insurance policy, but you do it anyway because somehow to keep hanging on to that old bar is no longer on the list of alternatives. And so for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of “the-past-is-gone, the-future-is-not-yet-here.” It is called transition. I have come to believe that it is the only place that real change occurs. I mean REAL change, not the pseudo-change that only lasts until the next time my old buttons get punched.

I have noticed that, in our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as a “no-thing”, a no-place between places. Sure, the old trapeze-bar was real, and that new one coming toward me, I hope that’s real too. But the void between? That’s just a scary, confusing, disorienting “nowhere” that must be gotten through as fast and as unconsciously as possible. What a waste! I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing, and the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid the void, where the real change, the real growth occurs for us. Whether or not my hunch is true, it remains that the transition zones in our lives are incredibly rich places. They should be honored, even savored. Yes, with all the pain and fear and feelings of being out-of-control that can (but not necessarily do) accompany transitions, they are still the most alive, most growth-filled, passionate, expansive moments in our lives.

And so transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away but rather with giving ourselves permission to “hang-out” in the transition between trapeze bars. Transforming our need to grab that new bar is allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens. It can be terrifying. It can also be enlightening in the true sense of the word. Hurtling through the void, we just may learn how to fly.