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The Dead, Transition and Divorce.

by | May 24, 2024 | Divorce, Personal Blogs

This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend three nights at the Sphere in Las Vegas, enjoying the latest rendition of the Grateful Dead, Dead & Company.  Back in the 1990’s a group of my friends and I would descend on Las Vegas each year to see a weekend worth of shows as tie dyed fans descended on the casinos and the city for a weekend of music and fun.  Back then the shows took place at the Sam Boyd Silver Bowl, an outdoor stadium with the shows taking place in the sweltering heat of the dead of the Vegas summer.  Last weekend’s reunion of sorts had the shows taking place in the Sphere, the new, air conditioned, state of the art, indoor dome venue.  If you ever have a chance to see your favorite band in the Sphere, do it.  With some 167,000 speakers and a huge wrap around video screen, the music is as crisp as can be, and the visual experience is phenomenal. 


Anyway, when you go to see Dead shows they are typically held in three day runs, where there will not be any repetition of songs over the course of the three shows.  While the Dead are a very improvisational band, there shows have a certain structure to them.  Shows are typically 4 to 5 hours, are broken into two sets, and roughly midway through the second set, there is an instrumental, sort of second break, called drums and space, where the guitar players and keyboardist take a break while the percussionists play, then vice versa before moving into the home stretch of the show.  


Sorry for being so long winded in setting this up.  Another mile post in the second set of a Dead Show is at some point the band will typically play a duo of songs from a short list they choose from.  There is no stoppage of play between the two songs as they have long been connected by transitional instrumental.  One of my very favorite of these song “couplings” that I got to see this last weekend was China Cat Sunflower followed by I Know You Rider.  The songs are great on their own, but as soon as you hear the first licks of China Cat, you know that Rider is just around the corner.  I bring all this up to focus on the time when China Cat is winding down and the transition from it to Rider is taking place.  Sometimes it takes place rather quickly and not too far into the transition, you begin to hear remnants of the move into the second song.  More often it is a long transition and you are in this space between songs, not knowing if you have left the first one behind, or if you have begun the move into the new song.  There is a period of knowing when you have begun to leave the first song behind but have not yet done so, a period where you have clearly left the first song behind but are in no man’s land, and then suddenly, you know the transition has taken place.  Yes, there is a divorce lesson here somewhere.


Transition.  Divorce is that transitional period between songs.  It is that window of time between letting go and moving on.  It is knowing that some part of you is getting left behind and that some new part of you is waiting to be formed.  The time it takes to make this transition varies.  Transition is necessary but if it is exacting too much of a toll, then you should find ways to get some help with accomplishing it.  I have worked with clients and have seen spouses on the other side of a case that seem to be stuck in this place between songs, when they can’t detach themselves from the first song to even begin transitioning or they are somewhere in the middle, but not able to move on past that in-between place.  


The Letting GoDepending on all the circumstances surrounding the separation, the letting go can have all different degrees of difficulty to it.  If it is inevitable, finding a way to process it in a healthy way is the best option.  If there is any chance to fix the marriage, then those options should be immediately identified and pursued.  If one knows that there is no chance of fixing, sometimes it just takes communicating that clearly so the other spouse can begin the letting go.  It is often easier if both spouses are in agreement that the marriage is over.  Moving into the transition can be a more accepted and natural progression.


The Moving On.  When we have been married to one another for a long period of time, our lives together become all that we know.  We are comfortable in our lifestyles, our interactions, our routines, etc.  We are creatures that gain comfort from habit and so imagining what life will look like after divorce can be a scary, unsettling, and even frightening thing.  I lost a brother several years ago, and I remember the struggle I had with moving on and trying to be happy again after such a large loss.  Being happy and moving on does not do anything to belittle what we are leaving behind.  My brother is every bit in my heart as I choose to smile and move on with life.  Moving on does not cheapen what is being left behind.  It is just the necessary progression which is life.  

Back to the MusicOne of my very favorite times of each Dead show I attend is this little period of time between these two known songs somewhere in the second set when I am well aware of this great transition taking place.  I really enjoy the lack of structure and chaos in the music between the two songs, when there is no hint of either song during this in-between and I am simply suspended in that area between the song being left and the song just about to arrive, where there is almost this middle third, unnamed song that is taking place.  That is transition.  In divorce that middle time can be more scary, uncomfortable and stressful.  In divorce that is the inevitable period of time that you are mourning what is being left behind and you are preparing to get to a place where you can embrace what comes next.  Know that however difficult it may be, that it is only temporary and the next song is on its way.