This is a time for commencements, graduations, and the completion of cycles. On Saturday we celebrated the annual graduation of our students at Johnson & Wales University and I loved watching our 1,100 grads confirm their educational experience by marching up to proudly accept their diplomas, going through the formal, ritual ceremony that marks such a significant transition into adulthood. It was indeed a confirmation service, like a bar or bat mitzvah, a wedding, a ceremonial acknowledgment of a major transformation in one's life. I think of these ceremonies as the extrinsic out-playing of the intrinsic initiation already experienced by the recipient; the acknowledgment that a significant soul branding, a rite of passage, has occurred. The more you think about it the more amazing it seems -- these graduates, while still who they always were, are no longer the same people. But it all happens so fast, this recognition of transformation, that you don't fully appreciate it except over time, in reflection, almost as a dream.
I'm thinking about this because I see many such rites of passage around me at the moment and, even in my own life, am approaching one: the completion of a new book. I will write more about
this book at another time, when it's closer to publication (next spring, if all goes as planned), but for now I want to focus on the passage itself, not the book but the completion of it, and how it feels. The fact is, I still have a month to go before I turn it in, which means that the initiation, the moment of truth, is not yet upon me (and it really won't be truly confirmed until the book actually hits the shelves next year), but I can feel it drawing nigh, which means I can feel the internal change in me, a new level of self discovery and changing identity that such a passage causes. It is another in a series of ongoing life transitions, some major and some minor, that bring about the unfolding of who I am and who I will be--that is, the growth of the seed of who I am in my essence as it unfolds into the becoming of who I am meant to be. Sorry, that's a bit philosophical and maybe even too abstract, because what I really mean to say is that we all go through such transformations in our lives, we are constantly unfolding -- not evolving, which would imply going from lesser to greater, though I sometimes refer to it as the evolution of our souls-- but rather, the fulfillment of who we always were in potential, like an acorn becoming an oak tree (to borrow from Plato).
Again, back to my point, and I do have one (as Ellen DeGeneris likes to say): we are coming to the final installment this week of our Gastro District webisode series -- yes, another completion, a graduation of sorts before we start on the quest again and begin yet another round in a different place, with different players. That the end of our Gastro series coincides with graduation ceremonies and the finishing of my book, amplifies how each of these events provides its own rite of passage not just for me. The completion of another story cycle in our webisode segments marks, whether consciously or not, a rite of passage for all our viewers. It is a completion of one circle before another circle begins, with each of us just a bit further along in our journey; the same, yet somehow different.
So yes, in a few weeks I will be turning in the manuscript for a new book, my first with a co-author who I will tell you about when I report the (hopefully) successful submission of the manuscript. We're in the home stretch stage and can see the finish line after a long nine months of writing. Closure is close but not yet a reality and until it is, the finish line, though in sight, is still tantalizingly in front of me, almost but not quite within reach. It reminds me of that perfect pizza we seek, if such a thing even exists (and we all believe it does). So imaginable, yet always just beyond our grasp--until we do, at long last, get a taste. Then we honor it with a confirmation ceremony of sorts; we write about it, talk about it, share it with others; we formalize it, we celebrate it, we can't wait to experience it again. It has happened and is now a part of our life experience -- it can never be taken away even if we never attain that peak again because it has become a part of who we are, of our being, of our becoming. It is an initiation, a marker of our journey, but then, having passed through that gate, having graduated, there is nothing left but to begin seeking it again. It is a spiraling circle; it never ends, it just continues to unfold.