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Between 200 Rungs, Both Ways

How to Unfuddle Your In-Betweens

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: subarcticmike
Feeling frustrated with the in-betweens?

We are a goal-oriented people, and we like to know “where” we are headed–whether it’s by the end of the day or the end or our life. It’s just the in-between that befuddles us.

Terry Hershey

Today is a “moodling day” in which I get to do some enjoyable tinkering and, hopefully, arrive at some creative insights about the “in-betweens,” AKA the “not quite there yets,” also called the second stage of a transition: The Neutral Zone.

I’m starting my moodling session by playing with a silly little prefix named “Peri” – and just in case you wondered, I’m not referring to the mythical and possibly vengeful sprite named Peri.  I’m playing with an idea proposed by my daughter who recently coined a new and very apt term when she wrote:

Peri-retirement is the transition before real bona fide “done with it all” retirement can be achieved… this stage could last years… similar to peri-menopause.  Given that, we “Ladies” are probably better equipped to deal with this transitional period.  LOL.

Hmmmm… maybe men’s midlife crises are really a struggle against their own peri-retirement phase… a denial of sorts.  By over-indulging, they kind of force themselves to keep at the same level with no room to dial it down a bit for peri-retirement.  : D

Seems that peri-retirement could have a lot to offer if one is focused on enjoying it and soaking up everything you can get from the journey…

You do realize what she’s done here, don’t you?  She’s reframed the in-betweens with a new name: Peri-You Name It! For instance:

  • Peri-employment instead of job hunting
  • Peri-weight loss instead of dieting
  • Peri-graduation instead of ABD (all but dissertation)

Peri -You Name It!

In cinematic terms “reframe” means changing the camera angle without stopping the action.  And with this new Peri-You Name It! point of view I’m beginning to visualize an in-between time teeming with all sorts possibilities.  And that seems MUCH more inspiring than contemplating the in-betweens as befuddlingly fruitless and effortful wastelands. What a positively BRILLIANT insight!

I like someone who embraces life; who wants to be on a long journey but has no particular plan or destination in mind. An adventurer, open to the concept of living life in the moment.

— Jill Hennessy

I agree: choosing to find a way to enjoy each part of our journey from cradle to grave, even the in-betweens, does seem like a lovely alternative to letting ourselves get befuddled by them!  And, I know and understand – most of us – me and you included – like being goal oriented.  And feel perhaps a bit bereft at the idea of not knowing or having a destination to zero in on.  But I’ve decided that instead of wasting away in the neutral zone, I’m going to take a deep breath and tolerate some “muddling time” to sort things out.  I will try to trust that new, deliciously juicy goals will surface out of this muddle.

Make Your Neutral Zone a Time of Improvisation

Try this: If (when?) you find yourself befuddled and floundering in-between, when you find yourself stuck in a Neutral Zone – which we’ve reframed as a Peri-You Name It! Zone – consider taking transition-expert, William Bridges’ advice:

  • Find regular time and place to be alone.
  • Take this pause in the action of your life to write an autobiography.
  • Think of what would be unlived in your life if it ended today.
  • Take this opportunity to discover what you really want.

Or become a true adventurer and go bolder with some of ZenHabits contributor Jonathan Mead’s recommendations; here are a couple to get you started:

  • Do something amazing… Not just regular tasks, but something that you’ll feel good about, that excites you…
  • Pull out all the mental weeds to allow room for the things you care about to grow.

But most of all – muddle through the moment…

The main thing to do is not to hurry up and figure things out, but just to center yourself and wait watchfully.

— William Bridges
The Way of Transitions

And, if that mythical and possibly vengeful Peri-sprite starts fuddling up our in-betweens, let’s be adventurers who reframe their point of view – let’s look for the dazzle hiding inside the possibilities of the moment.  As philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm said:

Let your mind start a journey thru a strange new world.
Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before.
Let your soul take you where you long to be…
Close your eyes, let your spirit start to soar,
and you’ll live as you’ve never lived before.

Let yourself bedazzle those befuddling in-betweens – starting now!

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