Every Rites of Passage adventure consists of three phases of ritual activities: Separation, Transition—I like to call this, Transformation—, and Reintegration. The initial SEPARATION phase launches the person or group of ‘ritual passengers’ into their Adventure. It is usually marked in a formal rites of passage cycle by distinguishing the Adventurer in various ways as no longer in her/his ‘old’ state but not yet in the ‘new’ state s/he seeks to attain as the Quest of their adventure.
I love the scene in the very first Star Wars movie (Episode 4: A New Hope) when Luke Skywalker stands on a hill at dusk watching the double sunset and feeling the desire to depart the way of life he has known to embark on a greater adventure. This is the beginning of Luke’s Call to Adventure. His Departure begins shortly thereafter, first when he departs his uncle’s compound to find the renegade R2D2 and encounters his Mage Teacher, the Jedi Knight Obiwan Kenobi. The second stage of the Departure is when Luke leaves his home planet, but perhaps we will come back to that set of scenes as Crossing the Threshold.
Luke is marked for Departure by his show of restlessness with his uncle and aunt just before his longing gaze into the double sunset. When he (upon his second departure on the Millennial Falcon) receives his weapon of the Light Saber from his Teacher, this separates Luke from all others as he is from then on in training to become a rare spiritual warrior of the Jedi Order.
Very common ensignia of Separation accompanying the Departure stage of an heroic adventure would be donning a uniform or cutting one’s hair (e.g. for a military boot camp, or Yentl’s shearing of her feminine identity in cutting her hair in order to be able to study as a Hasidic scholar). One sheds their old identity and prepares to confront the ordeals of the transitional/ transformational Passage.
As I approach retirement in a few months over a year from now, I have already begun the Separation process so as to allow and to prepare well for this Departure. I am on sabbatical from my professor role this semester, which is a form of semi-retirement (though busy, as my retirement will also be). I do not hold myself to the same normal schedule of a regular workaday semester. I wear jeans more than not even at the office. I close the office door unless I have a known appointment. All of these mark my intention (to myself and coworkers and students) to shift identities; no longer Chair of my department, now I begin a more liminal, transitional passage.
images are from pixabay.com
It is helpful and important to MARK yourself as being in Separation from your earlier way of life if you are to step boldly into the next phase of your adventure. The more clearly and distinctively you can separate yourself from your normal routines and activities, the better! As you mark your Separation you create at least the shell or form of your new identity. You must shed your Old or outmoded way of life in order to move confidently into the New mode you aim to achieve that will bring you Fulfillment of your deep aspirations.
What new Adventure are you aiming to undertake that can help orient and launch you in an appropriate direction to Live Your Dream, Now? How will you MARK your Separation as one ready to Depart?
I invite YOUR comments and stories!
Well said. My husband just retired at the end of 2016 and my daughter left to work in another state. One might, initially, think they are the only ones “departing.” But, alas, these changes have affected me as well. I still work full time and will be for quite awhile longer. I have the financial responsibility placed squarely on my shoulders now. I watch my husband sleeping snuggled up in the warm covers as I get out of bed way too early for normal people and hurriedly dress to get warm and I feel a bit jealous. My daughter is embarking on her new life with all its’ nerves and excitement. You guessed it. I’m a bit jealous of that too. Maybe I’m not actually departing, but things are changing for me too.
Your post today is particularly apt. I just let go of another person from my past with the passing of an old family friend. While my life goes forward into new adventures, I still recall, and cherish the events of the past and the people that influenced me. In Greek, there have two sayings that deal with death – Memory eternal (Αιωνία η μνήμη) for the departed and Zoe se mas/Life to us! (Ζωή σε μας) for those of us that are still here. It seems to work.
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Beautiful, Paula. Embrace the sadness of this difficult ordeal. Passing brings Loss but can be a necessary departure to even greater Soul adventures. Thanks for sharing.