By Linda Nicholls
Haven is in transition. Thirty-eight years ago the growth of Haven became central to my life with my personal growth deeply interwoven along the way. The thoughts and feelings stirring within me about Haven’s current transition are multi-faceted.
One of my perspectives is that of course Haven is in transition! I certainly am and have been for several years now at a seemingly escalating pace – along with every thing and every one else on our planet and in our universe. Since Bennet Wong & Jock McKeen opened the world of Haven in 1983, thousands of people have dedicated themselves to the growth, nurturance and sustaining of Haven. Consider the magnitude of transitions that all of us together have navigated!
Transition is defined as a process or period in which something undergoes a change and is passing from one state, stage, form, or activity to another. It has to do with “going across,” referring to the process more than the end result.
Some transitions are subtle and gradual, some are agonizing.
Life itself is transition from birth to death. Death is an essential aspect of all transitions – something dies in order for something else to begin. Our universe, our planet, our social structures are in transition. It seems to me that the intensity of these transitions is knocking us awake into becoming more acutely aware of living within transitional space. . . the deeply personal and the universal. We are being called to become more expansively conscious of the multiple dimensions of our existence.
Life is movement and where there is movement there is transition. It is the natural order that individuals, families, communities and organizations are continually navigating existence through a constant process of change. Personally, I have a sense of simply being a tiny particle sharing in this challenging, ongoing alchemical process that we are all going through together. Even when I have a sense of being stuck, transition is occurring. My transition in the stuck times is moving toward contraction into a static state rather than expanding into who-knows-what! Whether one direction or the other transition involves movement from the familiar “what has been” into the unfamiliar “whatever emerges”.
Many years ago Maria Gomori and I created and taught a Transitions workshop. At that time someone shared a recording of what I think is the perfect song about transition. Unfortunately, I don’t recall who shared it. This was in the old-days of recording onto mini-discs so the background data is long lost. The title I have for the song shared with me is Tybalts’s Death, however in my search to find the origins I’ve discovered it is more appropriately named The Trapeze Song, created from a parable written by Danaan Parry in his book Warriors of the Heart. (a web search led me to Fran McKendree’s online store, where apparently the song can be found on a cd titled “The Fear of Transformation.” http://www.franmckendree.com/store.html To my dismay when I clicked I was forwarded to Amazon and got this message: “franmckendree.com expired on 08/12/2022 and is pending renewal or deletion.” Another death by Amazon!) I have transcribed the lyrics to share with you. As you read them, and I suspect relate to them, please imagine hearing a guitar and at times orchestral music playing subtly in the background as the male singer rhythmically articulates the lyrics.
The Trapeze Song
Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings
Either hanging onto a trapeze bar swinging along or
for a few moments in my life I am 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 steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I am in control of my life
I know most of the right questions and some of the right answers
But once in a while as I am merrily, or not so merrily, swinging along
I look out ahead of me in the distance and what do I see?
I see another trapeze bar swinging towards me
Its empty, and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this trapeze bar has my name on it
It’s my next step,
my aliveness coming to get me
And in my heart of hearts that for me to grow
I have to release my grip on the present, well-known bar to move on to the new one
Now each time it happens to me I hope,
no, I 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 the old bar
and for some moment in time I must hurtle across space before I can grab onto the new bar
And each time I am filled with terror
It doesn’t matter that in all my previous hurtles across the void of not knowing I have . . . always . . . made it
Each time I am afraid
Each time I am afraid that I will miss, that I will be crushed on the unseen rocks on the bottom of the chasm between the bars
But I do it anyway
Maybe this is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience
No insurance policy
I do it anyway because somehow to keep hanging onto 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
It’s called Transition
I’ve come to believe that it’s the only place where real change occurs
I mean real change, not the pseudo change that only lasts until the next time that my old buttons get punched
I have noticed that in our culture this transition place has been looked upon as a
Sure, the old trapeze bar was real,
and the new one coming towards me, I hope that’s real too
But the void between, that’s just a scary, confusing, disorienting, no where that must be gotten through as fast
and unconsciously as possible
What a waste!
I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing and that the bars are illusions that we
dream up to avoid the void where the real change occurs
And 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 savoured
With all the pain and fear and feelings of being out of control that can accompany transition they are still the
most alive, 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 giving ourselves permission to hang out in the transition between trapeze bars
Transforming our need to grab that new bar is allowing our self to dwell in the only place where change really
It can be terrifying
It can also be enlightening in the true sense of the word
Hurtling through the void we may just learn how to fly!
Just as death and birth are inseparable twins, perhaps so are terror and hurtling through the void to learn how to fly.
I’m reminded of Viktor Frankl’s words in The Will to Meaning “….the tragic and negative aspects of life, such as unavoidable suffering, can be turned into a human achievement by the attitude which a man adopts toward his predicament.”
My explorations into the expansiveness of consciousness has led me to learn more about quantum physics which is affirming what Viktor Frankl knew by living it – our experience is conditioned and limited by the perspective we are viewing reality from at any given moment. Quantum physics is showing us that there is no separation between the cosmos and consciousness. Through acts of observation we are participating in bringing reality into being and being shaped by it simultaneously. The observations of all participants past, present, future meld together to form what we experience as reality.
In other words, my attitude powerfully influences every transition occurring. Add to this the powerful impact of the questions I am asking!
Quoting Paul Levy from his book the Quantum Revelation: a Radical Synthesis of Science and Spirituality: “We ourselves create the reality of human experience with the questions we ask and the procedures that we undertake to find the answers to them.”
Werner Heisenberg, a theoretical physicist and pioneer in the theory of quantum mechanics told us that what we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.
The renowned theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler was a colleague of Albert Einstein and Neils Bohr. Named as a sage of modern physics he was recognized for his courage to tackle the big issues in his field. Before his passing in 2008, he was referred to as “the last Titan, the only physics superhero still standing.”
Wheeler is quoted as saying “there is a mysterious relation between question and answer.” He wrote in his personal journal “it may be more important to look for the right questions than to look for the right answers.”
This is inspiring to me given that I’ve been hurtling through transitional space from one trapeze bar to the next for several consecutive years now.
From one cancer year with minor surgeries, major uncertainties and treatments to another cancer the next year with major surgeries, then a nearly fatal infection (from a cat bite !) to the next year of ongoing treatments and recovery, to beginning the next year with the death of my beloved son Scott followed shortly after by all my plans for continued personal and professional recovery brought to an abrupt halt by Covid. Then this past December the passing of my cherished friend Maria Gomori.
The poet David Whyte has been of solace and also inspiration. In his book Consolations he says “Solace is the art of asking the beautiful question, of ourselves, of our world or of one another, in fiercely difficult and un-beautiful moments.” He tells us that the questions we ask shape our identity and encourages continuing to ask as a way of shaping our lives. Maybe somewhere along the way David Whyte encountered Heisenberg or Wheeler or Levy!
Currently I am in yet another transition between what my past priorities for living have been and what they will be from now onward. Am I approaching this transition, and Haven’s transition, and the massive transitions underway all around us with an attitude of curiosity and imagination or with an attitude of dread?
What different outcome will I experience by asking “what disaster is going to occur next” as I hurtle through space between trapeze bars than if I ask “what new creation awaits revelation” as I reach out to grab hold of the next trapeze bar?
Wheeler said “the question is, what is the question?” One question I am asking my self is “what is it in me that wants to be born?”
What is the question that wants to emerge from you as you are hurtling through space between the trapeze bars of your personal transition?
What is the question that wants to emerge on behalf of Haven, and that you can be asking on behalf of Haven through this transition?
What is it that wants to be born?
Rainer Maria Rilke proposes:
Be patient with all that is unresolved in your heart
And try to love the questions themselves
Do not seek for the answers that cannot be given
For you would not be able to live them
And the point is to live everything
Live the questions now
And perhaps without knowing it
You will live along some day
Into the answers