they would speak a thousand things

Archive for January, 2012

Transition is like…the Matrix?

As I was pondering this week what should be the topic of my first blog post after being back in the world for just over a month, the word transition kept popping up in my mind. I have been back at living in the “real world” for about 5 weeks, but it feels like forever ago that I was still inside the “Mercy bubble.” So I thought I’d talk a little bit about what this transition stage I am currently in feels like to me.

It might be common, but I love analogies. They just make sense! The best practical way I can think to explain what this transition stage is like for me is to use a comparison from movies. Many images come to mind when thinking of transitioning from that cut-off, safe, familiar “bubble” world back into the very fast-paced, already established, confusing and challenging real world. The first is that the transition is disorienting and takes a while to get used to, and by the time you do, your world changes and it’s gone. Much like in the movie The Matrix, in which there is a vast difference between the bleak, cold and dying “real world” and the matrix world – in which everything is fixed in a blissful state of peace and prosperity around the end of the 20th century. I often feel like Neo does in the film, when he first awakes in the “real world” and realizes how very different it is from anything he ever thought he had experienced while in the matrix. “Waking up,” as it were, after living in that safe, secure environment for so long leaves me mixed up with a loss of direction and relations – just like Neo.

Similarly, living in the transition stage is a bit like living in limbo in the movie Inception. In the film, it is a place where dream walkers can become stuck if they die in a dream while sedated. The dream world concept is a similar idea to the Matrix, where the person can enter and interact in the dream world while physically remaining in the real world. The place of “limbo” is in my opinion sort of like the underworld of the dream world, where one goes a level deeper into the dream – this is the “dream within a dream” concept. Limbo is basically like a suspended, endless dream state in which a person can become stuck potentially forever. In transition, like limbo, you feel stuck, like you cannot escape a constant state of instability, never knowing where you are. Many times transition is like living in limbo – like being stuck between the real world and the dream world, inescapably stuck in an intermediary state of life with seemingly no place to call your own. 

In writing, a transition is a term used to describe a word, phrase, clause, sentence, or paragraph which serves to make a connection between two parts of  a piece of writing. The purpose of transitions in writing is to create cohesion, or a smooth flow from one idea to the next. They keep the reader from being jerked around, getting confused, and possibly even losing interest in the reading. I have heard it said that transitions are like the glue that holds your ideas together. In view of this definition of transition, when applied to life a transition works as the bridge between two seasons of life. It is often hard and awkward, but serves a bigger purpose to move you forward towards your future.

As a book nerd and English major, I love knowledge and strangely like to read the dictionary to find the meanings of random and uncommon words, like bijou, murrain, punctilious, etc. The word transition is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a movement or passage from one position, state, subject, or place to another.” In short, transition literally means “change.” Thus, if transition equals change, I wonder: is it a good or a bad thing? This, I believe, is determined by the circumstances. Many people (including me) would say that they hate change because they like stability, consistency, and a sense of dependability on the familiar. The reality is that things change all the time, if you think about it: you change the oil in your car, climate change, change the sheets on your bed, change the channel, change clothes, change the style of your hair, change your opinion on a certain subject, your intellect and the amount of information you store in your brain is continually growing and changing, the expression, “my, how you’ve changed,” you may have a change of address, need a change of pace, even coin change!…and on and on…See? Change occurs every second of every day. Change is all over! Although I don’t like it sometimes and it’s often uncomfortable, change is inevitable in this world, and unavoidable.

Such is the case with transition as well. If you ever want to learn, move forward, succeed in life, mature, or even grow in your walk with God, you have to endure both change and transition. Change occurs all the time, but transition is a specific season in life. I believe that a person goes through many transition periods in his or her life, because between each season of life must come a transitional period during which you must adjust and adapt to the new environment. This is what I must do. Though it is definitely not easy; not by a long shot!

Sometimes I feel like I am just coming out of the Matrix and into the real world: confused and disoriented in this strange, different and complex world; yet other times I feel like I am in the limbo dream world: stuck in an alternate life that shouldn’t be mine, lost and alone in an unfamiliar world full of strangers. As the popular line from the Moulin Rouge says, “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return”; well, my philosophy for this transition time is similar, but goes more like this: “the best thing you can experience is just to know others and be known.” That is what I want.