“Today the backdrop to everyone’s story is never-ending whitewater. We feel like we’re on rafts floating down a commanding river, with each raft having only a small mast and sail, a rudder, and some poles. Sometimes when the river is calm, our journey is fairly effortless; we can moor our rafts in an eddy or near a meadow and camp for a while. Other times the whitewater tests every skill we have, as we slide over rocks and rapids and swirl about in unforeseen directions.” – Frederic Hudson.
Dr. Hudson is a master at sharing his message through stories and analogies. I learn well using these methods so I found myself deeply immersed in his book titled: Adult Years – Mastering the Art of Self-Renewal. The book reviews the journey of adulthood (from age 18 – 100) as our opportunity for continual revitalization, reorientation, and positive change. Where was this book when I was 18? Oh yeah! It wasn’t written yet. 🙂 I could have used some of his teachings to help me understand what was happening as I moved through my life’s chapters and transitions. We all face extraordinary challenges in today’s ever changing fast paced world; his book has given me some insights on how I might proceed with my second half of life.
The image of life as a river resonates with me. It ignites images of the chaotic power of change and our need for continuous vigilance and readiness as we move through this one shot at life. I can picture myself careening down the Colorado river; my heart pounding fast and hard – me gasping for air with every class 5 rapid being navigated. Yet as we move down the river we are presented with ports of call. Some that are expected – school, marriage, children, career growth/changes, loss of parents, children moving out, retirement, etc…and some that are unexpected, divorce, loss of a job, death of a spouse or child, a diagnosis of cancer, etc…
“A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.” – Nikki Giovanni
Hudson shares that the river journey flows in a cycle with reoccurring patterns of events and life tasks. The cycles move from periods of stability, which he calls life chapters, to unstable periods, which he calls life transitions. I recognized as I read that I’m currently in a life transition which is both fantastically exciting yet at times overwhelming. I’m what Hudson refers to “cocooning.”
Cocooning is a phase in which a person is quiet and introspective. They are focusing on and investing in their personal growth and tapping into core personal values as they transition into life’s next chapter. A cocooning person becomes filled with new hope, passion, and purpose. During this phase there is a peeling back of the layers of the former life chapter – leaving the world of action and entering the world of soul searching.
As with any cocoon, there is a metamorphosis happening inside. Introspection, personal growth, and a clear vision of life’s purpose is typically discovered while cocooning. This process should not be rushed; a cocooning person needs to allow themselves time, energy, focus and work for this transition to produce positive results.
“This time, new external extensions of the self will be chosen, like new clothes, to fit current dreams and values and competencies and to accommodate current social conditions and opportunities. The dark night of the soul fades into morning’s sunrise, and the cocoon breaks open for the butterfly to begin its journey.” – Frederic Hudson
Can you see why I love his style of writing? Deep right!?! He has studied adults for decades, in particular how we get off track from our inner purpose, and has written several books regarding the adult journey. Hudson has been called the “Dr. Spock of the Adult Years.” I have a feeling that my generation may have been the last to have Dr. Spock’s book: The common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care on its “must read” list of child rearing books. (Learn more about Dr. Spock and his book here.) I say this because I don’t want you think this is Star Trek’s Dr. Spock! 😉
I whole-heartedly suggest his book to anyone who is wanting to discover more about their life journey – why at times it appears easy and other times it’s a struggle, feel lost, even stuck. If you do choose to read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts by commenting to this post.
I wish you calm waters and the ability to better navigate the rapids on the river of life.