What We Can Learn From Transitions

Change isn’t easy, but if we’re kind to ourselves—and flexible—we have far more to learn than to lose

The end of summer, as with any changing season, is a time of transitions. Children go back to school, it’s a popular time to take a new job, people move into new homes. I was recently given the opportunity to help close friends of mine move out of the house in which they have lived for the past ten years. I was mostly a spectator, moving boxes and bags as I was directed. As I helped, I observed how this move brought up feelings of sadness as well as joy for them. As with most moves, they divided a lifetime of belongings into keep, donate, or throwaway piles. I watched as my friends carefully and meticulously handled baby shoes, wedding gifts, books, kitchenware, long-forgotten and dust-laden exercise equipment—all with a sense of amused nostalgia. They were beautiful in their contemplation.

Every item represented a story, a memory. Some memories evoked tears of joy, while others evoked pain.

This process was necessary for them as a couple because it represented an appraisal of their individual lives, their marriage, and the life they were building for their children. I appreciated that they suspended judgment on many of the items they came across; they were slow to criticize themselves for past purchases, opting instead to laugh and shake their heads in disbelief at past style choices. It’s an emotional challenge to go through the past ten years of one’s life and make these kinds of decisions. My friends were deciding which memories would follow them to their new home and which would be filed away in their hearts. They were necessarily thanking all of the blessings of the past while appreciating the simplicity of the future they were preparing for.

In the end, I was grateful for such an intimate view of their transition. It showed me the power of purging. As summer begins to transition into autumn and children go back to school, it’s a good time to re-evaluate. As I clean out my own closets, both physical and emotional, I am grateful for all of the experiences and all of the roles that my “stuff” played in my well-being. My friends taught me that it is okay to be thankful for an item or an experience, but also to discard it if it no longer serves who I am today.

Even when discarding an item itself, as we move forward we hold on to the intention with which we accumulate things and experiences and relationships. Hopefully our intention is always to, in some way, improve our own lives and the lives of others. This is the beauty of the changing of the seasons: cleaning out the old allows us to be thankful, but also to make room for new experiences and opportunities that improve our lives in whatever ways we see fit. Be thankful, but also be flexible. Release as you remember, and realize that this season is one of many that will come and go and your drive for survival, adaptation, improvement, and renewal is equal to that of nature and is therefore never ending.

Photo by Melissa Ryan

Anwar Shariff


Anwar Shariff is a humanitarian at heart. He travels the world in an effort to better understand cultural contributions and the nature of humanity and spirit. His interests revolve strongly around the field of psychology, education, and spirituality. His book: The ABC’s of Everyday Living: Daily Strategies for Personal Well Being can be found at www.tripleaxios.com