Monday, March 9, 2009

Transition = Creativity

Today I was feeling absolutely giddy. The spring weather teamed with daylight savings meant one thing: change. And it made me realize something, it's not just spring that I feel this about. I also love the transition from spring to summer, summer to fall and fall to winter. I love the change from day to night and night to day. The transition from high school to college, college to work, from one city to another, and from job to job.

Some transitions last only a few minutes (bye-bye sun), others take a month or so (hello spring!), and still others take a few months (where's my new office?) Transition, in my experience, has been a huge opportunity for creativity. Take for instance, my pregnancy -- sort of the ultimate 9+ month transition -- during which I got a masters degree, worked full time, and wrote a collection of poetry. There's just something about the uncertainly that makes me more alive. When I'm outside, I hear the birds, I notice the miniature purple flowers in the grass, I smell the thawing earth. The old routines are gone and so I am forced to step outside of my experience.

That's part of the reason why I find unemployment so interesting. As Rob Taub pointed out in our Q&A last week, "A layoff is the perfect time to assess where you belong... most people never do. Many employed professionals are misaligned in their careers but lack the time or energy to do something about it. Unemployment frees you up to give full attention to defining what it is, clearly, that you CAN and WANT to do, WITH WHOM, for HOW MUCH and to WHAT END."

Unemployment (especially in the form of a layoff) is a gift that some people will never experience. When I look back at the past year and how much I've learned as a result of having to find a new job -- and then transition into a new job -- it's overwhelming. Had I stayed in the same place, my experiences would be no where near as diverse.

So, if you're unemployed right now, free yourself to fully embrace the uncertainty. Take advantage of it. Use it. Sit in it. Let it thrill you a little. Let it scare you even. Let it do what it will to get you to the next place.

And in the meantime, pick up a novel or memoir for motivation. Travel literature, for instance, is all about transition, living on the edge of uncertainly, excitement and creativity...
  • Don Quijote : The first novel, ever. A coincidence that it's also one of the all time best books about transition & travel? I think not.
  • On The Road: Makes travel seem very affordable: loaf of bread + salami = enough food to cross America. Well, maybe only if you're Jack Kerouac.
  • Candy Freak: Travel + vintage candy = Steve Almond classic. Any book w/ jacket copy like this is worth a read, "...explores the role candy plays in our lives as both source of pleasure and escape from pain."
  • Eat, Pray, Love: Elizabeth Gilbert makes transition look devilishly fun without loosing its sense of uncertainty. She keeps it real.

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