In-between spaces may lead to an extreme makeover of oneself, but let’s face it, that whole dark night of the soul thing to reach personal transformation is not necessarily what you’d choose to do on a Saturday night…or really ever. Usually it chooses you.
So how does one make it through the valley of the shadows of failure, uncertainty, and groundlessness without being eaten alive by mountain lions? I like to think that sometimes we just need a bit of remembering where we’re really at and what ‘tudes we have in our own personal transmutation toolboxes.
Vicissitude: The deal is done, there really is no turning back, and there is no un-doing (or un-seeing), so accept it. Even if you haven’t fully come to terms with it yet, you are undergoing change at some fundamental level. Vicissitude is all about the state of change or being changeable (and makes a fun addition to your Scrabble vocabulary). Sometimes just acknowledging the idea that growth implies change lends itself to new perspectives. If nothing else, just saying this linguistic gem five times fast might temporarily break any impending-doom/is-this-really-happening thought patterns for a few moments.
Attitude: Attitude greatly affects how we see the world and interact with it. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not always easy to take a breath and say, “I’m sure that guy who just cut me off on the freeway probably just lost his job/broke up with his girlfriend/just got cut off on the freeway.” But sometimes a momentary pause in the space between our initial feelings and our thoughts might change our reactions (way easier said than done, I know).
In addition to our moment to moment ability to embrace what is happening, I like to think of attitude less as something that “needs an adjustment” and more as something mutable, sassy, sexy, powerful, honoring, and possessing of oneself. I like to think of attitude like ladies dancing in a burlesque show: purple boas, swanky 20’s music, and just owning it. Because, really, it’s yours.
Gratitude: I recently was complaining to a friend about feeling bad for being judged harshly for gaining a few pounds. She said, “I wish I had your body because it is beautiful and can move.” I realized what a jerk I was, complaining about feeling fat to a friend who had trouble walking. And then I thought, I can jump, skip, dance, hike, climb…I can move.
Sometimes, in the midst of life’s wreckage, after I go through my list of how bad things are, I remember how good things are (like my incredible family who really would do anything for me and like my friends who accept my crazy and still answer my calls even when they know it’s going to be a broken record-a-thon). Even the current bane of my existence, graduate school, is still pretty amazing because I get to go to graduate school. Gratitude=remember the little things also comes in the form of hot showers, Netflix, my favorite burrito joint, that epic night in Prague, and a best friend who has her one-year-old son leave messages telling me he misses me. Sometimes we just need to think of one thing in our lives that brings a smile to our face. My ultimate go-to in a pinch is remembering that my cat starts gently meowing a few minutes before my alarm goes off every morning and then snuggles with me. This reminds me every day holds some kind of warm fuzzy.
Rectitude: Honesty and morality-super big deal. Call it Karma, but even in the midst of incredible discombobulation, knowing that you are an honest, honorable, and overall good person can provide a good leg to stand on. Personal integrity consists of a lot of things, and for me, honesty is one of its pillars. And in times where this ‘tude might seem lost in the void, I try and look for it under my bed (aka where I am hiding it from myself). Having a strong moral compass in your lifepack is an invaluable way to finding the route home, for oneself and for others.
Longitude: Sometimes we get so caught up in our own world we forget about the actual world that we are all standing on. Underneath us sits a mass of carbon and magma and feldspar all held together by pure gravitational genius. In addition to all of the chemistry and biology and ecology, at the very moment you are reading this, someone else is waking up and someone else is going to sleep. Someone is dying and someone is being born. Someone is falling in love and someone is hearing his or her own heart rip in two. Someone is drinking tea and someone is jamming out to a favorite song.
I like to think that while I am up until midnight writing my thesis and wanting to claw my eyes out, someone else is swimming in an ocean and someone else is looking at the stars. More importantly, we are all here inside of planetary motion, inside a solar system, inside a galaxy, etc., etc.. It puts things in perspective real fast when you can think about the space of your life as an actual longitudinal, universal place (or latitudinal, if you’re into that kind of thing).
So during times of big shift, remember the ‘tudes of transformation:
Vicissitude: Accept it
Attitude: Own it
Gratitude: Smile at it
Rectitude: Know it
Longitude: Stand in it (or jump if you prefer)
Geography gifts a constant reminder that we are all existing in a multi-dimensional space-time continuum. When all else fails, you can always just close your eyes and try to comprehend that gravity actually stops you from literally spinning off into the void. Now that’s a grounding thought.
Got any other ‘tudes in your toolkit…quietude, fortitude, crassitude? Please share below.