I got a call from an old friend this morning, informing me that his aunt passed away. She was a lovely woman – generous, kind, and funny, and I hadn’t seen her in many years. I went to the wake, and was transported back into a crowd of people I’d known in my early 20’s. I saw gray hair and bald spots, pot bellies and wrinkles, and smiles that hadn’t changed one iota.

I ran into “Sue,” whose sister and I were best friends in high school. The sister and I had a falling out over 20 years ago, and Sue briefly updated me on her sister’s life. When I asked about her brothers, Sue mentioned that she’d had words with one of them and they don’t speak. I saw a guy whom I’d met at a retreat run by a gifted and soon-to-be-troubled man back in the late 80’s. Mr. Gifted/Troubled now lives in Arizona and speaks to only one of his five children, after divorcing his wife of many years. I also learned why I hadn’t heard from a friend who became more of a “Christmas card acquaintance” in the last few years; she’d died of a sudden aneurism one morning about two years ago and her husband hadn’t called to tell me.

It was strange, this filling in of blanks I didn’t even realize were there. I was given a lot of information about the people of my past, who’d somehow not stayed with me along my journey to where I am today. It was bittersweet; I wondered what it would have been like to have stayed in touch with some of these folks, all the while knowing that I wouldn’t have the life I have if I had. And, I was hearing how others and some of the people they’d been close to had gone their separate ways, too.

It reminded me of the “empty elevator,” a term coined by Martha Beck. She says "It's the period when you are climbing from one level of life satisfaction to a higher one, leaving behind any relationship with people who disagree with the change you are making. The good news is that the empty elevator always drops you off in a new place with new people who are living the life you dreamed about.”

Sometimes, the elevator-emptying isn’t obvious or dramatic. While there’s the occasional falling out with someone, where you agree to go your separate ways, it’s often more of a drifting away, until only the holiday card is written, or you can’t remember the last time you spoke with so-and-so. There have been periods where my life has felt more devoid of good friends than I would like, and there have fortunately been more periods of great abundance. I’m learning to be very grateful for the lonelier times, because they have more to teach me.

Elevator-emptying is a necessary part of growth and change. As we become more of who we’re meant to be, we often “shed” possessions, stories, wardrobes, beliefs, traditions, behaviors, and yes, even people. While in some cases it might feel sad to think of those we don’t see any longer, there’s always the opportunity to connect with those who better fit with the people we’ve become. And, sometimes, we find ways to re-kindle a connection, as I suspect I could do with someone I saw today. Even if it doesn’t happen, I’m grateful to have talked with people who were important to me a long time ago, because they reminded me of where I’ve been and where I’m headed, and I’ll hold the memory of their smiles wherever I go.

Author's Bio: 

A Certified Life and Career Coach, Chris is dedicated to connecting people with possibilities – expanding opportunities for creating a life they love through one-on-one coaching, teleclasses and workshops.

Having left a successful career as a human resources executive to pursue her heart’s desire, Chris has made the journey her clients take. She is their inspiration, supporter and guide as they step out of their comfort zones, answer the question “What’s Next?”, and are awakened to new possibilities for bringing satisfaction, purpose and joy to their personal and professional lives.

To learn more about how Chris can help you, go to christinabrandt.com, or call 203-845-9147 to set up a complimentary consultation. Your life is waiting…