Author's note: This is a personal essay I did for my writers' group on the subject of transition. Rest easy... I am no longer in such an uncomfortable time as I've written below. But I thought since we all go through transitions in life, you might enjoy these thoughts!
Getting the Cat Into the Carrier: A Transition Rant
Some people think of “transition” as a mere word. A three-syllable, 25-cent word, but still just a word. It sounds smooth, doesn’t it? Just listen to it flow off the tongue: transition. I can almost hear James Earl Jones reciting the word in his deep, melodious tones, as though it’s the brand name of a fantastic new car that you just have to buy, right now, this very second:
“Visit our showroom today and test drive a new Transition. You’ll be glad you did!”
To some people, transition sounds that bright and exciting. And I get that. Some people want so badly out of where they are now that any change seems good.
But not me. I hate change. And lately, transition has not been giving me a smooth ride the way a luxury sedan should. I’m not cruising down Rodeo Drive like a perfect princess in a sleek Cadillac Transition.
Instead, I’m hurtling up and down some freakish, roller-coaster mountain roads in my possessed, Stephen King’s Christine of a car! This is my current transition: a car from hell with no brakes on steep hills.
Do I need to say how much I hate transitions? Or have I already made myself clear?
Let me make a confession to the brethren. Not long ago, I left my home state of Connecticut to live in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And honestly, I thought the transition of leaving Connecticut for Tulsa was the epitome of bad. From Connecticut to Tulsa . . . that’s like Jesus leaving heaven for earth!
Well, okay. That’s a huge exaggeration. I admit it. But that should help you see where I’m coming from. The change of location and culture was so drastic. And unlike Jesus, I didn’t exactly handle my Connecticut–Tulsa transition all that well. Personally, between you and me, I did consider it robbery — highway robbery — to have to leave. And I still do, in a way. Like I said, I’m not a fan of change.
But that transition was a pleasure trip in the Caribbean compared to the one I’m going through now. Right now, I’m doing what I heard someone describe as the “Abraham transition.” That’s the “go to the place I’ll show you” transition — the one where you know things are changing and you have to make some moves, but you have no idea where you’re going to end up.
The Abraham transition is fine and dandy when you’re in the back of the car yelling, “Are we there yet?” to your harried parents in the front seat. But when you’re the one driving because it’s your car, and you’re the one yelling, “Where are we going? Are we there yet?” — Uh, yeah. Not so much fun.
If you want a different metaphor for what the Abraham transition feels like to me, I have the perfect one for you. I feel like a cat that’s being stuffed into an animal carrier. And specifically, I’m being pushed through that tiny door built into the top of the carrier.
Now, if you’ve ever owned a cat at any point in your lifetime, you already know exactly what I mean. But for those who have not had the pleasure of this experience of cat-ownership, let me share it with you:
Cats generally hate being put anywhere they were not already planning to go on their own. Doesn’t matter where it is. It’s just the general idea of being put that they don’t like. The cat therefore says to itself, “Well, I wasn’t planning to go over there. So I’m not going.”
And this form of cat resistance is made at least a hundred times worse when you’re trying to put the cat through the small opening in the top of a cat carrier, because the feeling of going top-down is really, really loathsome to cats for some reason I have not yet been able to determine. After all, they always land on their feet, so why should they care? Nevertheless, if cats aren’t doing the top-down drop of their own volition, they get extremely hostile about it.
And they resist.
When cats resist, they tense up. They splay out their legs like ramrods. They stiffen up and turn into stone. And suddenly you can’t fit them through the hole in the top of the carrier, because they’ve made themselves too big and wide and stiff to fit through it. I’m talking about furry cat legs thrown out in all four directions, thrust out toward the four compass points, like the arms on a windmill.
And that’s how I’ve been feeling.
As you might imagine, this resistant cat behavior is not the ideal way to enter and embrace a time of transition. It’s not embracing at all, is it? It’s resisting with everything that’s within me. And yet in spite of the fight inside me, the transition hasn’t stopped.
So I’m going on the journey uncomfortable. And I have no idea where I’m going. And I have no GPS. Except for God’s latest direction to me, as vague as a quick note scratched on the napkin of my prayer life, reading: “Relax. The next place isn’t open yet.”
But I have to confess this one last thing: I guess I’m settling down into this time of transition after all. As of right now, I no longer feel precisely like a cat with its legs splayed out, a veritable Mr. Windmill.
Before you get too proud of me, though, let me warn you that this change of attitude still isn’t much to brag about. All it means is that God finally stuffed me into the carrier.
So now I’m just sitting here. In the carrier. A little grumpy, like a cat who’s lost the argument, you know. Sitting here, ears flaring, fur a little ruffled and puffed out. You can see I’ve been in a bit of a fight. But now the fight is over, and I’m just sitting here now, a big, grumpy cat stuck in a carrier.
All I can do now is pray I’m not going to the vet.
(C) Copyright 2009, Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved worldwide.