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  • Anna Byrne

Transition in 3 Stages. Stage 3: Emergence

“You might say that completion actually begins somewhere in the middle of a cycle and that

new beginnings are engendered out of previous actions.” -365 Tao



I don’t know what the next step is. The path is uncertain. That makes me uncomfortable.


I’d like the perfect starting point. I’d like transitions to be straight lines, to have clear onsets, tight edges, and a finish line. Sometimes, in waiting for the perfect starting point or feeling pressured to do something!, I wait too long or jump too fast. I usually regret it.


I recently read Stephen Hawking’s notion that perfection does not exist in the universe. Perfection means achieving a point in which change becomes impossible. Perfection is stagnation on a straight line, and this is unattainable in a universe defined by change, dynamism, expansion.


Transitions and life journeys in general might be better served by the symbolism of the spiral. Spirals are one of nature’s most common patterns. They are found in shells, furled leaves, whirlpools, weather patterns, our DNA, and galaxies. Rather than measuring movement linearly, the spiral has a trajectory that is connected, coiled, and winding. There is progression, but it is an interconnected progress.


So during cycles of projects or periods of growth, instead of the burning bush—a big flare in the darkness of unknowing that tells me which way to go—most of the time, I get a spark.


It’s the spark of emergence. Emergence is seeded in the shadow of previous endings. It gestates in the darkness of rest, gently formed and brought into being by digestion and integration. It is, too, the spark of quiet invitation from my spirit. It is not concerned, as I often am, with the perfect next step. It is more attuned to the natural way of the spiral and is infinitely more patient with its unfolding.


I try to listen. I try to (re)turn and re(tune) to that bidding. I am taking small steps. Each step, I think, is kindling. The fire I pursue will either burn out or burn more brightly, and I will keep following. I believe I will be met. I believe I will be met if not with certainty of path, than with assurance of spirit. I believe I will be met if not with clarity, than with self-kindness. I trust that emergence will continue to ascend in strength until it is viable enough to turn the wheel of life toward beginning again.


In a spiral, the path is not straight. It is tucked into itself, revealed only by taking the next step. If I see my life’s transitions as a spiral, I come to recognize that completion, rest, and emergence co-exist in the same circuit. They are always unfolding and informing each other. The spiral contains all. Stepping off the straight but narrow path of perfection, I choose the dynamism of the spiral, even if it meanders a bit more.


"The path is made by walking." (Arthur Paul Boers)

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