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Sonoma County Gazette
Senior Momentum by Zoe Tummillo's Monthly Column
Senior Momentum by Zoe Tummillo's Monthly Column

Later Just Arrived...

Feb 18, 2020
by Zoë Tummillo, Communications Concepts


When “later “arrives, we have labels for it.  I guess it makes it easier if we bag it into a category that makes it OK.  When later arrives, it usually means a transition is imminent.  Sooner or later, some challenging transition confronts every one of us, and in a lifetime, there can be many.

Just because I like to play with words and their semantics, I personally divvy up transitions into manageable categories: soft ones, coping ones, upheaval ones and inevitable ones!  I am sure there could be other labels for them, and you will probably have your own take on the concept – but, for now, humor me?

Some of us handle that “later” factor better than others. There’s even an argument that cynics handle unwanted stuff better than the rest of us because they expect it all, later --negativity, chaos, disappointment and inevitabilities, and so are automatically braced for assault!

Softly arriving transitions are, of course, the friendliest ones because they usually involve choices.  We plan them and look forward to them – like falling in love, moving to a place you really like or becoming a parent and other things like those.  Things we plan for later – but a later we look forward to.   

The coping transitions often have very little choice involved – we cope with stuff that just develops, usually outside ourselves, and those can be positive or negative challenges.  You know the kind I mean – a difficult teenager, a troubled relationship that you might have believed would fix itself later, or the damn crabgrass in the yard...  We cope, and coping is transitional.  

It‘s connected to diplomacy, tact and patience, and somehow the later part of coping always feels like it came sooner...

Upheaval transitions are the ones we just don’t ever welcome; we don’t even want them later.  The health diagnosis we hoped would never come, the death of a loved one, an accident that changes everything, a career path that gets derailed and the losses from a natural disaster – all are things we didn’t want later either.  We may know we will make it to the other side of it – somehow – but upheaval transitions take a high toll and test us mightily.

The Inevitable transitions are just that: inevitable.  They are the big ones over which we have no significant control.  Oh, yes, we can influence, we can even do some advance planning, but except for a few innovations (like induced labor or voluntary end-of-life euthanasia) we can’t really call the shots on timing!  The expected child will be born; we shall age – if we live long enough; and we know none of us gets out of this life thing alive!

In my opinion the “inevitable” is embraced by the other three — if only as prelude.   In my own life I inevitably invited as much of the soft good stuff as I could muster; when it came to coping I have always rallied; upheavals – there have been many to work or fight through, with tears or laughter.  The inevitable?  Well, acceptance helps... The children were born, and old age is here.  And I try to leap over everything in between!

We each have our legacy of how we handle it when later arrives.  I played a little game trying to take a look at the things I thought would be later, but came sooner.   Then, how did I do in the transitions.   Reflection – if you’re honest – can be sobering.  (Try it – you might like it!)   I wanted an A.  I thought I deserved at least a B.  I am still mulling it over...


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