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Transitions

tbilisi-church

Do you ever have the feeling that you’re leaving somewhere to which you’ll never return? You’ve been coasting along in the present, then all of a sudden—the future! Is here! There’s no going back, no matter how much you want to.

You walk out of the apartment and shut the door for the last time. You leave the university campus after years of study. You change jobs and say farewell to the workspace.

That place was so important to you, but now it’s no longer part of your life.

If you ever do go back, it’s never the same. You might feel like a conquering warrior (“I remember when I first arrived here, and look at me now!”) You might feel sad or regretful (“I wish I had…”), or you might have only good memories. Either way, change is the constant, and things are going to be different from now on.

***

Sometimes you don’t even see it coming. It just hits you all of a sudden: change is ahead! Be aware that this moment is passing soon, and your life will never be the same. Sorry, but you don’t usually have a choice in these matters.

When saying goodbye to a person or place, some think it’s best to leave things unsaid, or walk away without reflection. I’ve learned that this is usually a mistake, at least for me.

I say: hold on to the moment as long as you can. Fight for it if you have to. Get up early and stay up late. Be brave. Choose the raw emotion, even the awkwardness if necessary. If we must go on to something else, let’s at least think about what was and what could have been.

The more intense the feeling, the better. If synchronicity and the feeling of being part of something meaningful comes with sadness, loneliness, and disappointment, so be it. I just know that I don’t want the alternative—mediocrity, routine, the safe and the comfortable.

***

I often get this feeling when preparing to leave places as I roam the planet, even if I wasn’t that attached to them while I was there. Two years ago I went to Easter Island, thousands of miles out and six hours by air from South America. I enjoyed the visit, but as a tourist destination, it’s a long way to go for a small island with little to do.

I’m not buying a second home in Easter Island, in other words. But then—on the eve of my departure, I looked up at the sky and realized how far I was from everywhere else in the world. I also realized I would likely never return and thought, I’d better remember this.

I joke about collecting countries the way some people collect postcards, but really I’m collecting experiences like these. “Is it worth it to spend so much money on travel?” I’m sometimes asked. I don’t really think of it as paying for travel itself. I’m paying for memories, and when it comes to spending on memories, I say yes. Most definitely. I have no credit limit for memories.

I felt this way while leaving Tbilisi, Georgia a few months ago. It’s truly a beautiful city, and one of the best in Europe, no doubt. The intensity of it all was almost overwhelming to me.

I wasn’t ready to say farewell, but I also knew that staying another day wouldn’t make it any better. I ran ten kilometers the night before I left, trying to process the experience. The next morning, I rode in the mini-bus to Armenia, my next stop, and thought about it further for a good six hours or so.

I had been reading Don Miller’s new book on this trip. Among other things, Don says that meaningful lives do not just happen by accident. They require conflict, risk, striving, and overcoming. A good character in a story has to struggle, and so it is with all of us.

That’s why I think it’s good to embrace the transition points. Don’t go to sleep to dream. You can dream all day long without ever closing your eyes.

After making it to the next hotel, though, I laid down on the bed for a short nap at 4pm. I woke up 10 hours later, still feeling disoriented. I made coffee and did some writing.

Inevitably, I know that we all have to look forward instead of backwards. In the pursuit of growth, it’s better to choose the new than the old. But sometimes it’s also good to hold on to something for a while, and then you can treasure it as the memory it becomes.

Embracing reality may be exhausting, but I can’t imagine the alternative of avoiding it.

###

Image: Dariva

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104 Comments

  • Ross Hudgens says:

    Change is an incredible thing. Momentuous change from one location to the next is one of the most engaging moments one can undergo – to be completely overwhelmed by a new environment is something that can only catapult development. With that, of course, is fear, but understanding that development > fear, these changes are incredible.

    And I agree about holding on, this “change” period also occurs when you are about to leave, as you get a similar impression as you had when you first arrived – so to hold on to that feeling of transition is to feel unique, powerful emotions that only occur so many times in life.

  • Lisa says:

    This was a beautiful post– I think you nailed a truth here- so much growth is in the transitions of life.

    I sometimes think of it as a trapeze artist…those spaces when they are flying in air, weightless, perhaps filled anxiety, between the comfort of the grip of a bar (having just let go of one and before a firm grip is planted on the other) are just so ripe for coming to know yourself so much more deeply.

    When we stay in the place that make us feel a bit uncomfortable and anxious, before grabbing tight to the next anchor, we are more likely to make the best choice for the next thing to grip as well.

  • Raam Dev says:

    Your description of leaving a place you feel you may never return to matches my own almost exactly.

    When I left the beautiful beaches of Gokarna here in India a few weeks ago, I took one last stroll over the hills and gazed out at the ocean. It reminded me that while I may be leaving this place on planet Earth, I will still be on Earth. I’ll just be seeing it from a different perspective.

    I also believe that we should embrace transition points, as they reenforce our good memories. I also think it helps in times like these to look at the bigger picture — to take a step back and recognize what isn’t going to change.

  • Rose says:

    Chris,

    I just discovered your website a couple days ago and have really enjoyed your posts. Thank you for the reminder that even the awkward moments can be meaningful. Also, I had no idea Don Miller had a new book out, I will definitely be picking up a copy.

  • Leigh says:

    Thank you. This came at a perfect time in my life.

  • Mike Carlson says:

    “Don’t go to sleep to dream. You can dream all day long without ever closing your eyes.”

    BAM! That’s awesomeness right there. I remember when I looked forward to bed time because it meant I was done with another day. That’s not a fun way to live. I think I’ll stop here and everyone, go up and read that again.

  • Susan says:

    I think about this all the time. Even the mundane moments should be treasured. Whenever I leave a country, like Iceland and Norway last week, I stop to listen and absorb the sunset. Taste the beer I’m probably sipping, feel the sun, listen to the language around me. It makes more of an impact on how you really feel and what you’re really thinking about, or avoiding, or dreaming, or hoping than you would know.

  • paula lewis says:

    As my autistic and retarded daughter, only twenty, fights a battle with an incredibly aggressive cancer, I thank you for this timely essay. Being in the moment, fighting for the experiences that will become memories, giving in to the knowledge that things will never be the same all resonate within me. We are traveling a different geography, but the beauty, challenge, danger, and joy are equal.

  • Brooke says:

    Fantastic post with great insight. I also just read Don’s book, and loved his view on struggles and transitions as well. After I whizzed through it, I shoved it at my unemployed husband, who’s been job-searching for over a year, and insisted that he read it!

    Very true that the more interesting people have had just enough struggle and survived. And while we may not enjoy the negative emotions we experience as we struggle, it is essential that we experience them, rather than block them out, as part of character-building. We just have to keep the faith that eventually, we will emerge victorious.

  • Beautiful post, Chris. This is something I’m going to share with friends. We all need someone to say, as you did, that places and people change us, change makes us feel different and its not always comfortable–although that hardly matters…
    But it is that last and final moment, as fingertips stretch to make one last connection with the person or place, that sticks with us. Its that last look, the final sentiment that lingers like an arm around our shoulder.
    Thanks for your inspiration.
    Jill

  • Lindsey says:

    You are reading my mind today, Chris. I’ve been writing a lot about transitions, and about how I am standing in the middle of several endings that have shaken me in unexpected ways. An earthquake of sorts, even though none of the individual transitions seem seismic on their own.
    Your encouragement to sit here with the intensity is helpful today. Thank you.

  • Good thoughts!

    Funny, I’ve been thinking lots about transitions these last few days because my husband’s healthy father just died out of the blue when we were in the middle of no where on another continent.

    At my age I have been through a few of these traumatic transitions and I think the biggest lesson is always to seize the day in life for it goes by fast, no matter how long a life. Each life is precious and should be cherished.

    Jeesh, been a long time since I visited Tbilisi, Georgia, bet it has changed since the late 80’s when I was there….but your mention brought many memories flooding back.

    One of the things I love about our travel lifestyle is how all the transition and newness keeps us living in the “now” and I think more aware of the preciousness of all of life.

  • leslie says:

    Thanks, Chris, for this. I’m standing right on the edge…sold my home and have 4 days until close, in order to begin living life as a gypsy again (I had a brief 1/4 Life Crisis during which I started a location-based service business and stayed put for nearly 4 years!). My new online business is launching in 2 weeks. I’m pretty seasoned at uprooting myself and taking risks, but no matter how many times change comes in all it’s magnificent and inviting glory, it’s always a little disconcerting. I just started feeling a little stressed last week, doing a little questioning, immediately came down with a head cold, and was feeling really overwhelmed and uncertain. Your writing just helped me center all that. Too late to go back, so stand gracefully right in the middle of it and enjoy the hell out it. Totally beats the ho-hum security of coming home every day to exactly-the-same. Thanks for the perspective~

  • Lois Hudson says:

    Chris, this is one of your best posts ever. Beautifully written, but also deeply personal and thought-provoking. I will soon be leaving my home of many years
    for a new home in a new state. I am looking forward to the adventure of it even more than the nostalgia of leaving current environment. But I am treasuring the
    “lasts” that I am experiencing, photographing and journaling and learning to be
    “in the moment” wherever I am. Thank you.

  • Monica says:

    That is exactly how I felt when leaving Morocco. I was about to get on the plane, but I stopped, looked around me, and took one last deep breath of Moroccan air before getting on the plane. That memory is extremely vivid because of the time I took to really soak it up. Also, every time I leave my childhood home, I do the same, and I am able to take it’s beauty with me as I go back to the continental US surrounded by prairies and trees instead of ocean and tundra.

    Thanks for the post!

  • Amber says:

    If there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that LIFE IS LIVED IN TRANSITIONS. It’s the moments in between our to-do’s, people and places that can rein us into the present moment. I too struggled with transitions when traveling, but also daily! Great read Chris, as usual 😀

  • Pascal says:

    Awesome article.

    Your post come at a good moment in our life. Change occurs but for some people it unveils their insecurity and their lack of control over what’s happening in their life.

    We should try to embrace change and be ready or be open for what’s ahead. Life is not an harbour, it’s a journey!

    Pascal

  • Jenna says:

    Yes, yes, yes! So there right now! As I said good-bye to friends in Mexico, say hello to friends in my hometown PDX, and ready to say see you soon as I head to Ghana next week. Savoring the moments, laughing the hearty belly laughs and praying the heartfelt ’til our paths cross again. Chris, I greatly appreciate your blog and the model you provide for living a full life that works for you!

  • Hannah says:

    This is why I resonate with your blog: you’re so skilled at writing about the moments; the now; being present.

    I too love to savor experiences, even when there is sadness attached to them. I’ve had many, many such transitional moments, being a professional risk-taker (as my mom likes to call it.)

    I’ve traveled a lot, moved for love, let go of a solid and successful career, and flown by the seat of my pants many times. Somehow it works out well for me most of the time. Cats have 9 lives and I’ve used about 6 so far ;-))

    I wouldn’t trade the failures for anything – and the amazingly rich life I experience is worth its costs. I wrote a piece about how loss and adversity show us our awesomeness just yesterday.

    Thanks for reminding us about the beauty and spirit in every day.

    Hannah (aka courageous cat)

  • Meg says:

    This is something I’ve had to come to terms with fairly rapidly. I knew I’d be living a semi-nomadic lifestyle when I married into the military. What I wasn’t expecting was all of the emotions that come with having to move, even when where you were living wasn’t a great fit for you.

    The only thing I try to do is not look back, because I can only move forward. Onto the next place, the next people, the next adventure. I simply never want to be detached from any place simply because I know we will be leaving… Better to deal with the pain of detaching than to have never been attached at all and lead a life half lived.

  • So good. For much of my life I couldn’t risk it. Running, running. But now that I am strong enough, I know that the transitions are where I feel the most alive. And I cry incessantly. And I laugh and love big. Like you, I want the highs that go with the lows. Thanks for this.

  • Ian says:

    Don Miller is the optimist’s David Foster Wallace. Good choice in reading material!

  • John Sutton says:

    Chris, I always look forward to your posts and as others have said already this one is particularly poignant. There is a beautiful poem by Borges called Limites that I’m sure you and others here would appreciate. Here is the beginning at least…

    Of all the streets that blur in to the sunset,
    There must be one (which, I am not sure)
    That I by now have walked for the last time
    Without guessing it, the pawn of that Someone

    Who fixes in advance omnipotent laws,
    Sets up a secret and unwavering scale
    for all the shadows, dreams, and forms
    Woven into the texture of this life.

    If there is a limit to all things and a measure
    And a last time and nothing more and forgetfulness,
    Who will tell us to whom in this house
    We without knowing it have said farewell?

    Through the dawning window night withdraws
    And among the stacked books which throw
    Irregular shadows on the dim table,
    There must be one which I will never read.

    [NOTE: Out of space but do find and read the whole poem.]

  • It’s amazing how many moments we miss along the way…sometimes when I think of my son’s short 8 years on the planet (he’s still here, didn’t mean to sound macabre) I want to cry for all the lost and life-altering memories.

    Then I read the gracious poignant message included in Paula’s comments, and I’m jarred back into reality and I really want to shed tears. You’re a brave and beautiful women, and my heart goes out to you and your daughter’s stuggles.

  • Liz says:

    Loved this post. It is just what I needed to read in the middle of the merger of the seven cities in Auckland, New Zealand. As the internal communicator at Waitakere, my future in the new council is uncertain and as the plot unfolds, there is tension in the workplace that we are all trying to deal with.

    The good part is that we have a great team and we all support each other. I’m going to send your post to the people there as we work our way through this transition.

    Waitakere is an awesome council to work for but it is coming to an end on October 31.Until then, I am working on a book of recollections of those who work for Waitakere the eco city before we disperse. I’m going to print out your post and refer to it as a blueprint for dealing with change. Thanks heaps.

  • Paul Kenyon says:

    While I am always a fan of your writing generally, and your AONC posts specifically, I must take a moment to thank you for sharing this heartfelt post. Transitions are certainly a big deal. I like to think of them as the punctuation marks that shape and define the narratives or our personal stories. I, too, found Don Miller’s book especially helpful, but I want you to know that your example also pushes me to think about how I might live a better story.

    May your ongoing questings continue to lead you to memorable places.

  • Ryan says:

    Your finest post to date. Don Miller once held the door for me and said, “nice ta see ya” at a speaking gig in Cleveland. It was a bit like your Easter Island experience. Okay that’s a bit much, but I definitely am tracking with you.

  • Nedra says:

    I really liked this:

    I had been reading Don Miller’s new book on this trip. Among other things, Don says that meaningful lives do not just happen by accident. They require conflict, risk, striving, and overcoming. A good character in a story has to struggle, and so it is with all of us.

    I think I’m guilty myself about forgetting how the struggles of life and how it can change is what makes life beautiful. Nicely put!

  • Wilson says:

    This was a fantastic post, Chris. Your expression of this great but often frustrating experience really dived right into my heart and mind and warmed them both up with memories and insight. Reading this and the comments left by others above reinforced the sense that we are not alone when it comes to transitions – it’s personal and unique but change is something we all have to deal with.

    The past year and a half has really forced me to stop running from one safe “known” to another. I have been embracing and living my life as a transgendered person for awhile now but it is only recently that I have come to accept my life as one of constant transition. When we don’t hold ourselves in or stay within the lines, we can really feel. The fear and the pain comes with that but if we embrace that it is easier to feel the happiness and excitement that balances things out.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful perspective. My best wishes to everyone in their own transitions.

  • Natalie Hill says:

    This leaving places and moving on is really something to be reckoned with.

    Sometimes life can seem so surreal. I’m in the process of selling my house and leaving the city and community I’ve lived in and with for the past 10 years.

    Since I’ve lived in France, Venezuela and Alaskan Eskimo villages, I thought this current transition would be a snap. Turns out it hasn’t been so easy.

    Like you said, Chris, there is conflict, risk, striving – and I hope, overcoming!

  • Diana says:

    Touching post. I’ve had that moment many times in my life. It makes me wonder if this is new for you, this reflection? Did it develop over time, or have you always been aware of the fleeting nature of your travels/life?

    John Sutton…thanks for the reference to a beautiful poem.

  • Devin says:

    Hey Chris,

    Yes, one of your best posts, well said.

    Of course, you are preaching to the choir with me. Most of my favorite memories come from being stuck in a terrible train station after a great trip, or a great bus station at the end of a terrible trip. Either way, the space to reflect, say goodbye, and feel inspiration of the uncertain future always brings me hope.
    Best,
    devin

  • Bethany says:

    Change is something I love, yet I have a really hard time starting it. I have a hard time settling down, staying anywhere for a long time but I have an equally hard time changing things. It doesn’t make sense.

    I am an emotional person anyway (get that from my dad) so I always end up being emotionally bare when things start changing. It sucks but it’s just a part of who I am.

    I have found a way (an idea of my sisters actually) that helps overcome this. Instead of thinking along the lines of “This will never happen again” or “This is set and stone and I can never go back” I know think “This is just the way it is right now”. It doesn’t mean that it won’t be different later.

    It makes it a lot easier because in the end you have no real idea what the future holds for you. You might end up on Easter Island by some strange stroke of luck. It could happen. It makes it easier to think this way when leaving a place, a person or a pet.

  • Bahiehk says:

    Thanks Chris!! Just what I needed to hear.
    I too happen to *live* for intensity!!
    blessings.

  • Monica says:

    I once read a book that said only three things in life are constant: change, humor, and paradox. I still haven’t had an experience in life that contradicts that. I found this article very comforting and relevant, as I’ve just graduated high school, about to go to college – but more than that, this summer is very different than others. I generally wake up at 7, go to work, come home, nap, shower, hang out with friends, repeat. I’ve never had a less relaxing summer. But like you wrote in another article, I’m trying to err on the side of action – and when it’s all over, I’ll have such great memories and experiences to take away from it (even from working at a bagel shop for minimum wage!)
    “The reason most people find it so hard to be happy is that they remember the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.” Carpe diem.

  • Great article. I would have to say my hardest transition was coming off military active duty. Talk about adjustments. As far as relishing that experience and getting as much out of it as possible. I am not sure that I am done that process and it has already been a few years. I am constantly learning from what I did not understand at the time. As I grow older so much seems to make more sense. I hope that makes sense. Anyway. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Kerry says:

    Thanks so much yet again Chris for typing out just what I need to be reading. I am leaving the south of France after 11 wonderful years and heading for Canada. I have chosen to live these last weeks intensely. Thank you for reminding me.

  • Playstead says:

    Great post, probably your best in some time. I totally get where you’re coming from, but haven’t had that feeling in a while. Probably time to revisit … Keep up the good work.

  • Malwina says:

    Thanks so much for this article. Just 10 minutes ago, I was writing in my journal about transitions… so much about synchronicity.
    A few months ago I quit university and moved abroad. It was a good decision and I was looking forward to it – and yet I had mixed feelings when I left behind my empty apartment, gave away my keys, and walked past the university one last time. Sadness of saying goodbye, even though the goodbye is good and necessary.
    But instead of suppressing it, I allowed the feeling to be. I allowed the nostalgic thoughts the be. I allowed myself to say goodbye.
    It lasted just one day, but looking back I’m so happy I took this one day…

  • Another great article Chris. It reminded me of two things:

    – In ’96 I made it to Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Central Australia and after making the hike to the very top I sat there enjoying the view… this massive hunk of a rock is slap bang in the middle of flat, flat, bushland (it’s flat!). After 2 mins, a bunch of tourists arrived. One of them started complaining because after the treacherous climb there was “absolutely nothing to see”.

    – Holden Caulfield mentions something in Catcher in the Rye about “feeling that sense of *goodbye*” when you leave a place (I’m paraphrasing – from my rocky memory of reading the book).

    .. so just like your Easter Island moment, the enjoyment of something (place, thing) is not in what’s there, but in whats not there. And when you do leave a place, realizing it’s the end of one chapter gives an ordinary day a form of context, even if it is just a milestone on a bigger journey 🙂

  • nic says:

    Hiding from reality is exhausting too. I can’t keep doing it, so I am trying to be brave enough to embrace life. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Etsuko says:

    Your writing is so poetic. It evoked some emotions inside of me. It doesn’t usually happen – I always walk away with “Great point!” or “Inspiring” kind of impression after reading your blog, but this one was a bit different. It almost brought tears in my eyes. It might be because I’m used to moving from one thing to another and know so well what you are talking about. What you said so resonates with many of us here, but you somehow raised this whole thing to another level.

    Thanks for that!

  • Fly Brother says:

    AMAZING post, Chris. I’ve been living in South America for almost five years, four of them in Colombia pining to move to Brazil, and now that I’m in Brazil it’s only dawning on me after three months that I’m here “living the dream,” working in the capital and flying 80 minutes down to SP or Rio for assorted debauchery on the weekends. But there’s that special person I left in Colombia, someone I love and with whom I would have stayed (in a country I don’t love) had we been more forthcoming with our feelings. And as much as the American male in me says otherwise, I relish the raw emotion, the passion, and even the despair that comes with loving one person, loving one place, and loving to travel all at the same time. Those feelings are almost the only permanence you have when your life is all about continual transition. And as exhausting as it is, being in those moments, seeing, feeling, believing in those moments, is the only way life is truly lived. Rambling, I know. Thank you, CG

  • Darryl says:

    I enjoyed the post — thoughtful.
    It triggered in me the thought that we tend to live life often as though we are “unconscious” when one of the secrets seems to be to allow ourselves to be fully alive to the experiences we have; all the “hullo’s” and all the “goodbye’s”. Frequently we tend to get caught up in the routine of life and when we do have those hullos and goodbyes (which we actually have on a daily basis), we struggle or perhaps fight them rather than perhaps really learning to live them….Thanks for the thoughts…for the prompts.

  • erna ramos says:

    Great post Chris! This is one of my favorite article… Keep it up!

  • Josh says:

    This email hit me as I just flew 5000 miles to Buenos Aires, in transition as I journey around the world, and may be parting with a woman I dearly love and have been traveling with for the last 9 months. I never used to be scared of traveling to a completely foreign place halfway around the world, but somehow leaving the comfort of a loved one and being dumped here is almost too hard to take.

    It feels great to live deeply but damn can it hurt at times. Great post here & interesting to hear about everyone else who identified with this post Chris.

  • Brandon Edick says:

    Chris, one of the best posts I’ve ever read by anybody. And it can apply to anything, travel, family, or soon to be ending romantic relationships because of school or job transfers. good form sir. Totally look forward to your Thursday posts/ Don’t stop.

  • Man, you are crushing it right now, in a great groove. I have been dealing with similarly placed emotions after a recent bicycle crash left me with a broken pelvis and collarbone. My latest realization — the life I had been leading was unconsciously comfortable by my own design (think path of least resistance). The unexpected change and challenges to my life have really opened my eyes and mind to the alternate lives I should be pursuing…and the best part is no travel is involved. Thanks again for keeping us all focused on what matters….

    Patrick

  • Thank you so much for this.
    I’m about to move to the UK from New Zealand, I have 1 week of work left… working what has been my dream job for Greenpeace NZ. And part of me really doesn’t want to go.
    I’m excited about the trip and work in the UK is looking promising… but I don’t want to lose the community I’ve got here… except if I stayed I’d probably be restless still. So I’m leaving the office, with people I’d consider family… and I’ll hold on as long as I can… but eventually it will be time to go…
    Change is great.. and change sucks sometimes too.

  • Kyle Smith says:

    Inspiring post. Savor the moment, and invest in memories, because they last forever. Thanks, Chris.

  • Chris, this is an absolutely lovely post. We do try to rush through physical and emotional transitions. That “in between” place is uncomfortable. As a friend always tells me when I feel agitated about ambiguity, “Just sit with it.”

  • Ricardo says:

    Congratulations Chris! Awesome article.
    Thanks for sharing this.
    Hope to meet you some day.

  • Ben says:

    I came across your website in the very early hours of this morning while nodding off to sleep during my 10 hour night shift. I’ve found it very inspiring and mind opening.
    Even though I’ve read a lot of material along similar lines that you write about, I’ve found your writing style and real life action to be very refreshing.

    Great work on your efforts!

  • Eli says:

    I agree with you, Chris. I’ve left behind alot of things in my life, and it’s never really easy. Thinking back to where we were and comparing it to where we are, you really see the progress you’ve made but the nostalgia can have a very strong emotional effect. All of the people and places that are far behind me and may never lie ahead of me, they are still intact in my mind. That’s the greatness of life, it’s a big ride.

    And even if some great moments are far behind us, there are sure to be many more great ones ahead of us, too.

  • Taoist says:

    You say “hold on” but I say let go. Memories are in the past; “NOW” is where we live, but try to avoid. Live now-the past has gone, the future is yet to come. Unchain your minds.

  • Taoist says:

    Wherever you go in the world, you are not that far from your self. You can run, but you can’t hide. Free yourself from your self.

  • Patrick says:

    People’s personalities come into play sometimes too. Some can move on easily, some resist it. I find I can move on – almost too easily. I have to try to find that line between holding on to make the memories more dear, and being able to move on to the next experience to keep the future right there. If I don’t find that line, I tend to move on so easily that the previous experience can be lost in the next.
    I also continue to think “One day I may return” and later, when it becomes obvious that I won’t, enough time has past for it to hurt me.

    Great article Chris.

  • Wyman says:

    I remember sitting at the airport the day after graduation from American Community School in Beirut, Lebanon. I thought this would be the last time I would see my class members. We were like family after two years in the boarding department.

    About ten years later we decided to have an all school reunion every three years. Going to that first reunion was so special. They had all gotten older while my wife (HS sweetheart) looked the same. Three years later we had aged too.

    Memories are wonderful.

    A few years ago they had the reunion in Beirut. We did not go because we wanted to remember Beirut as we know it before the civil war.

    I made a trip to S. Calif and found all the houses I had lived in as a child. I found them but none were the same. I’ll just remember them and all the fun my cousins and I had as they where then. Places change but our memories don’t have too.

  • Ariane says:

    Your lasts two (or 3?) posts have just hit the nail on the head. I really liked a quote from the Equatorial Guinea email when you said every once in a while you should say what you really think.

    And then you write this, and it tops that quote for me. This email really struck a chord and I can definitely see it getting me through many difficult days.

  • emma says:

    “You can dream all day long without closing your eyes.”
    I absolutely adore that sentiment. Thank you for reminding me of its truth – it shifts everything.
    I love being conscious in the midst of change. Sometimes, things end without awareness, and it is only after they are gone that one suddenly feels their absence. It requires such glorious ATTENTION to feel the transition. Cultivating that is priceless.

  • This post really resonates with me Chris. One of my favorite and clearest memories from college happened annually around mid-May.

    Finals week would roll around, and inevitably one day would come where I would need to pull an all-nighter. I’d work until about 5am, getting about 90% of my stuff done. Then, just before sunrise, I’d go outside and take a walk around campus. I walked around for about two hours, watching the sunrise over dorms and trees, reflecting on the past year, solidifying the memory and appreciating all the good and bad. It happened by accident at first, but by my senior year, I was pulling the all-nighter even though my exams were done.

    Thanks for reminding me of those moments Chris.

  • Joel says:

    The last half of my stay anywhere is always a little somber. It goes by so quick and I’m always wishing I did more. The GOOD part about this is, I’m usually more aware the last half and end up doing more in the second part that I did in the first part.

    Now to take advantage of the first half of the time there…

  • R says:

    This week, this very week I find myself fast-forwarded into my future. Transition. Out with the old, in with the new. And then there’s all that stuff in-between. Like …now.

  • Lisa MB says:

    I almost missed this one today, Chris. Winding down for the evening and was *shocked* to see an unread email from you. (I usually devour them as soon as they arrive.)

    You met me right where I am today. That space in between. I wrote earlier today that I am a new (re)creation and after putting up the post, it hit me that I am leaving many things behind.

    I find that I’m scared to be here. Feeling bad had become a habit and I don’t know what to do with this new-found joy. I’m afraid that this will be short-lived and then what?

    Thanks for the reminder to just savor the moment I am in now. A perfect thought to end the day.

  • Matt says:

    It’s not exactly the same thing, but as an expat living overseas you find that at this time of year a lot of people are making semi-permanent transitions for new places (finishing high school or college, moving home, summer internships etc). My wife and I have been writing about how to make transitions well on our blog. The most helpful thing i’ve heard is the RAFT acrostic. It stands for:

    – R econcile relationships with people you will be leaving behind.
    – A ffirm the people/relationships that have made an impact on you.
    – F arewell. Make sure to say goodbye to people/places/things.
    – T hink destination. Don’t try to stay too emotionally and socially connected to what you leave behind, be present in the place you are.

  • Sylvia says:

    Lovely, lovely post. And perfectly timed to coincide with thoughts I’ve been having myself the last couple of weeks.
    There is a beautiful poem by the German author Hermann Hesse, titled “Stufen”, (Steps), which expresses very similar sentiments about changes and moving on. Anyone reading German might enjoy tracking it down. One phrase in it is: “Und jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne der uns beschuetzt und der uns hilft zu leben.”
    Loosely translated it means: “In each beginning is contained a bit of magic which protects us and helps us live.”
    Thank you for your perhaps best post ever.

  • Chip says:

    This is so true, and it’s exactly what I am feeling at the moment. Thank you very much for sharing.
    I find the hardest part of leaving a place that I think I’ll never come back again is when my friends ask me if they would see me again. I don’t know what to answer as whatever I say might bring tears in either my eyes or theirs.
    The greatest part of traveling is you will meet a lot of interesting people. But right when you start to know them, you gotta to leave.

  • barbara kelpin says:

    Nice sentence,”no credit limit on memories and “Spend on memories I say yes” I like that and will try to apply it in my life. Every day no matter if we travel we can always find something memorable. Watching the sun set, watching people and the love they show their families and pets. Makes one happy. Thanks for sharing your kind thoughts. B.K

  • Michael says:

    Well said my friend… However, what is life without some adventure and passion?
    I believe we all have those moments in life when we know we are leaving somewhere for the last time or seeing someone for the last time and I like you always try and take a moment to reflect on that and burn it to memory.
    I believe those memories we make and the adventures we partake of are the fruit of life along the way…
    Thank you for your posts. It is refreshing to follow your travels and to note your courage in doing so…

    Michael

  • Mickey S says:

    •*¨`*•?.•´*.¸.•´Wowser! Great post!
    Like al the other well spoken comments
    this post is resonating with me too.
    Yup Yup.
    Thank you for taking the time to write it out for us Chris.
    Now I will go re-read it
    .•*¨`*•.•´*.¸.•´

  • Ole says:

    Well put! A friend of mine introduced me to a wonderful expression for keeping the higlights of your life – keep them like pearls on a string. Everytime you savour one – or stumble upon one – add that lustrous pearl to your string of precious moments.

  • Julie says:

    Thank you, this is beautiful and so true!

  • Asa says:

    I can’t believe the timing on this post. I’m just back in the States after 297 days traveling around the world, and I woke up at 5AM wondering what I’m doing. I met up with some friends and family last night welcoming me back, but inevitably the questions turned to “What are you going to do for work? Where are you going to live?” instead of talks about my trip. I don’t want to talk about what cell phone plan I’m going to get, I want to remember my awesome trip and all the memories I collected along the way. I am going to live in the moment. Thank you!

  • “Human kind cannot bear very much reality” – T.S. Eliot.

    Not without making an effort, anyway.

  • Nailah says:

    This article could not have come at a more perfect time for me. As I start my final full day in Lebanon, I’m already missing this place and the people I’ve met here. I’m struggling between the sadness of leaving and the desire to enjoy myself until the minute they close the airplane door. The transition can be tough…or I can just embrace it and enjoy the ride.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Your posts have been such an encouragement to me the last few months. Thank you.

  • “HOLD ON TO THE MOMENT AS LONG AS YOU CAN”

    SO ENCOURAGING

  • Chris, thanks for these thoughts. Whenever I’ve left anywhere “never to return” it’s always the people that I’m saddest to leave, especially if I have made friends who I might not see again. I’m going to a high school gathering (it’s been 35 years since I left, only once been back for a pop-in visit) and am already excited to see many people again who have been gone from my purview for such a long time. I wonder if I’ll recapture the thoughts and feelings that I had back then.

  • Lorra says:

    This was great – your posts are always insightful. And I agree – hanging on to certain moments is crucial – it’s also important to know when to let go, too.
    You’ve given me a renewed fascination with the physical world – my geography is a lot better, too 😉

  • floreta says:

    “A good character in a story has to struggle, and so it is with all of us.” Ah! Thanks for this dose of Perspective! I’d never thought of this and now I feel better about being in a transitional stage.

  • Sergio L Romero says:

    Thanks a million Chris! Simply put, it hit home in all the right uncomfortable, comfortable ways! I needed to read this, it gives me hope, hope I already had for myself. Just feels good to read it when you’re not expecting to.

    Cheers,

    Serge

  • What a moving post. (No pun intended!)

    I’ve always said that transitions aren’t my forte – between paragraphs, goodbyes, endings….but you challenge me to re-think and re-live them. To not rush past the emotions inherent in a goodbye or a departure from a place.

    You’ve also inspired me to be more personal with my writing, not necessarily with what I share but with how deep I am willing and able to go.

    Thanks, Chris.

  • Well said Chris. Embrace the moment because it will be over before you know it. The reason I travel has always been for the experience and the memory. I will spend money I don’t have for an amazing trip, but I will nickle & dime over buying “things”. Things just give us momentary happiness, experiences give us lasting joy for a lifetime.

  • Phyllis says:

    What a great post. I am going to be moving to a new state in a week and with all the planning and to do lists – it’s pretty overwhelming.
    Thanks for the reminder to savor all the moments and let the emotion of it all just be!

  • Vicki says:

    You could have written this article for me. Honestly. I’ve somehow, in great fortune, stumbled across it. Have just made the transition out of a high-paying, high-stress job into running my own arts marketing consultancy – a long-term dream. My first contract is an international one and I am in a new city for a month. Instead of feeling exhilarated, liberated and excited, as I expected to be feeling, I have been overwhelmed by anxiety and raw fear, and a strong urge to run back to my old workplace and beg for my job back. This reaction and the emotions have taken me completely by surprise. My first reaction has been panic – to grab onto to the next bar as Lisa so articulately put (I really have felt like I am floating and might fall) and to beat myself up (why did I take the hard road, what was I thinking yadda yadda). Today I made a conscious effort today to sit with the discomfort. This is why your words are so amazingly relevant. Because they confirm that the discomfort is GOOD.

  • Terry says:

    I admire what you write about feeling the raw emotion and even the awkwardness. We’re trained to do otherwise.

    It takes courage not to avoid the truth.

  • Keith says:

    I’m not the most regular reader of your blog, but it always amazes me that you can hit the nail on the head about an esoteric topic like this one. When I was a kid, a friend of mine was moving away – as I was walking home from his house after saying goodbye, I experienced the same kind of transitional moment you are talking about in this piece. Keep up the good work!

  • John Sherry says:

    For transition I read wanderlust Chris. Something inside knows that my landscape is about to change even though I can’t see the horizon. Our natural instincts are stronger than most ever recognise.

  • Jamie says:

    Good or bad right now, it will change
    But it will never be mediocre
    In the end, my story will be thrilling

    “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away”

    Thanks for such an inspiring post Chris.

  • joy says:

    Thank you for a great article. Our family just sold our home and everything in it to travel full time, and it’s tempting to just leave the old life behind in pursuit of what’s next. Thank you for reminding me to engage the messiness of those memories–which were great!–and the necessity of remembrance, especially since we’re bringing two children along for the ride.

  • Dave P says:

    I think it can be great to sit back and really feel the moment whenever you are in transition. Just reflect on everything and really live it intensely.

  • Pam says:

    Most of us get so comfortable in our own little world but sometimes we just have to take a leap of faith outside our comfort zone. As for spending money on travel – to me, nothing is more worthwhile, I am collecting not only memories but experiences 🙂

  • Lana Hope says:

    This post made me cry. Been there.

  • Cassandra says:

    A huge transition is looming before me, so I’m glad I was led to this post. It’s scary and sad and exciting all at once. It’s like I can’t even see what my future will be like in three months. Not even a sliver of a vision. So I’m just taking it one day at a time, welcoming the transition, holding on to these moments.

  • 汚れを落としたあとは、革と同じ色か、クリアな色合いのクリームでお手入れします。

  • Anna says:

    Another great post. Thank you, Chris. Indeed, travelling is collecting emotions and experiences.

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  • You mean I don’t have to pay for expert advice like this anymore?!

  • First of all, you are turning an example into an imperative. Second, you are stating that a minister supposedly committed to a God who relentlessy pursues us as the expense of his own son, should be held the same standard as the wayward child. Thank the Lord, God does not do that to us!

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