Symbolic Transitions to New Spaces

Do you remember how Mr. Rogers always did the same thing when he arrived back home on the show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood? He opens the door, waves to us, sings a song, takes off his sports coat, hangs it up, put on his sweater jacket, zips it up, sits down, takes off his dress shoes, puts on his sneakers, and then begins a conversation with us. I’ve always loved the routine of it and how it signaled a transition from work to home, from one task to another, from one realm to another.

Today I thought about the little things I like to do to show a transition from one way of being to another. I do the same routine when I enter a classroom as a teacher, but I do other things when I enter my office (like hang up my coat and hat, adjust the lighting, pull out my lunch, start my computer). When I return home, I like to mark the event as well with regular actions that signal I’m now home. I change clothes like Mr. Rogers. I put away my dress shoes and put on my slippers. When I don’t do these things, everything tends to feel rushed and jumbled. I haven’t ended one thing to start another.

I’d like to take the time to mark the transition from place to place, whether physically or mentally. When I’m finished grading and on to my own creative writing, I love to pour a nice beverage, light a candle, and put on cozy clothes. When I do this, things always seem more orderly and peaceful.

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