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Lessons from Books -- Life is in the Transitions

I’m a big reader! So naturally I get a lot of great ideas when I read books! I thought it might be fun to share some of the lessons I have learned through my reading.

Today I’m starting with the book Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age by Bruce Feiler.

First, this was just a fun book to read! It is full of stories of everyday people and how they managed the transitions that they each faced in life. So many instances of “$h%& hit the fan and I made it!” What a boost to remember that other people have had rough experiences and made it… and so can we! If you’re looking for some good reminders that people are resilient, this book delivers!

Second, beyond all the stories that were told is the analysis… Bruce Feiler interviewed hundreds of people and found all the patterns for how people worked through their life-changes both the good and the not-so-good. He offers sound advice on ways to follow the pattern. I’ll leave it to you to read about the patterns and the advice.

Third, we have been taught to believe in a linear life… life comes at us in stages that are both orderly and predictable… but Life is in the Transitions really shows that life is non-linear. It even goes so far as to ask people “What is the shape of your life?” and the results were surprising! Do you believe in a mid-life crisis? How about the idea that you should finish school before starting a family? How about old age being a stage of calm reflection? This book breaks down the history of why we have culturally adopted these and so many other beliefs about life being linear.

My Lessons.

So here's what I learned. I really connected with the idea that life is nonlinear. Predict that life will be unpredictable. Know that the crisis isn’t always in the middle. Transitions can be thrown at us or be of our own making and oftentimes we’re working through a slough of them at once! Definitely not the straight line that I used to think life offered.

As I read, I thought a lot about the shape of my life. I finally settled on the shape of my life being a rocky mountain. Lots of linear moments (that made me really buy into the idea of a linear life), but definitely a lot of ups and downs. Someday I may reach a peak and come down the other side and KNOW that my life is a mountain… or maybe I’ll just believe that somewhere on the “other side” it gets easier. Not really sure yet how that will play out, yet. ;)

Mostly, though, I looked at my experiences and my “six car pile up” transition and recognized that coming through that is actually pretty amazing… even with all the things I’m sure I messed up along the way. I saw myself in the patterns and sometimes I wondered if I’m still cleaning things up. I learned that my story is valuable and making sense of it and sharing it will help me connect and write the next chapters.

Overall, I recommend this book because we ALL have transitions and hard things we have to “figure out” at 8, 28, 88, or 108. When we realize that we are not broken or wrong or messed up because our life doesn’t look like the linear lie that we’ve believed our whole lives, we can free ourselves up to create something really beautiful out of any mess we’re handed.

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