Labor Day musings on change

2 Sep

Happy Labor Day weekend! It’s absolutely beautiful outdoors, but after having trekked around with house guests from Maine the past week, my husband and I don’t feel like going anywhere. So we’re chilling at home, and it feels just perfect. We feel fortunate not to have to work today, and grateful for the essential services of those who do.

Labor Day weekend marks the traditional end of summer, though officially autumn doesn’t start for another few weeks. Labor Day weekend brings appreciation for the fleeting nature of summer, a sense that now is the time to be present and enjoy. At the same time, it brings anticipation of crisp days ahead, of loss as daylight shrinks back perceptibly from one day to the next, and of pace quickening as the “relaxing season” draws to a close. Already, fall is in the air, long before it’s official. The nights are cool, the geese are loud, and late season blight is shriveling the tomato vines.  There’s a perfect word for this suspended time: “liminality” which refers to the time and space between one state and the next.

This quiet weekend has me thinking about transitions—how we often know that they’re underway long before they’re official, and how such transitions pull us into a suspended state between wanting to appreciate what we have and wanting to move toward something new and less known. It’s exciting and disorienting at the same time. I’ve recently worked with a nonprofit executive director who was wondering if she should stay with her organization as it moved into a new stage of development. She wasn’t sure she was the right person to lead that next stage, and felt overwhelmed by what she saw as too many interdependent decisions to make.

As we talked, it became clear that she was already ready for change. Her season had already shifted internally, well before she made it official. I remember having the same “aha” moment myself, in each of the last two executive director positions I held. And like the executive director I was now working with, once I was able to say out loud that I was ready for change, it was as if I had decided long ago. Once I knew and once she knew, opportunities seemed to appear out of nowhere, like honking geese rising out of thick morning mist on an autumn river.

So, Labor Day might be a good time not only to thank the folks who must work when many of us are not working, but also to think about your own place as nature transitions from one season to another. Are there signs that you are on the cusp of change yourself? What questions and options do these signs imply for your next season?