I learned the word liminal recently. It was the perfect word, at the perfect time. Like most words, it can have a few definitions, but what resonated with me was its reference to the space between; a transitional time; a threshold. Between what was and what is. Or what is and what will be. The space where we are neither one thing nor another.
I think why I fell in love with this word recently is because it described, in one word no less, where I've been. And as difficult as that space was at times, it was also incredibly joyful.
Most everything in life is a process and often we are unaware of these transitional times. We move seamlessly from one thing to another. Like breathing. We inhale and we exhale, not often aware of the space between breathing in and breathing out. If we focus on that space, the experience becomes something new. Something else.
That leaving of the old to start something new. The space in between is liminal space. And that space can be all manner of things. It can be overwhelming because we are essentially in 'no man's land'. We are not our usual self. We are no longer connected to what was, nor yet present in what is to come. And that is the beauty of transition; of being on a threshold; of liminal space.
In that space, though, we can feel vulnerable, lost, anxious, depressed - it's not a space we are used to hanging out in. We go through transitions all the time, every day. Between sleep and wakefulness; between daily activities; between wakefulness and sleep. We are often not aware of them. And some of the transitions are easier than others. But what about the bigger transitions - changing jobs, partners, homes, towns? Those are all major changes. Do we give ourselves enough time to transition? To be present in liminal space? What would happen if we did?
I have recently been gifted 2 months of, essentially, liminal space. While I was in this space, I was uncomfortable. I couldn't understand what was going on. I was in incredible flow. Highly creative and happy. Yet giving my self such a hard time because I wasn't making money. It was such a fight between what I love doing versus mainstream money making employment. I feel like the space was a gift because it was a special time. And although the transition hasn't been something tangible, I feel like a completely different person; slightly askew from where I was. But totally taken with where I stand and the view around me. I feel like I have crossed a threshold.
I didn't know I was in transition - I just knew I was no longer where I was, yet not arrived at where I was going. Liminal space describes exactly where I was, the whole time. Who knew?! I am ever grateful and ready to step forward.
My idea of home is tricky at the best of times. I live in one place, in the southern hemisphere, while having a place in the northern hemisphere which can pull strongly on me. I was born to this place in the north, and it is my heartland. But I choose to live in Australia because I love it and it has always felt like home. It's tricky having two places which I call home because they are mutually exclusive - opposite sides of the world sees to that. And I don't imagine I will ever be able to live in one place and not be homesick, at least on occasion, for the other place.
It is to this latest bout of homesickness that I now find myself shrouded in fog. And I am feeling my way through how similar fog and homesickness can be.
I arrive in America this time in the dark. The morning after arrival, I head to the ferry, which will take us passengers to the little island I call home. We embark in fog; sail through fog; disembark in fog. I think if I didn't know this place intimately, I would find I don't like it. It's uncomfortable, this fog. Not being able to see more than a few yards in front of me requires an immense amount of trust. I really have to trust my own navigational skills and trust that there isn't harm, just out of view. And depending on where my head is mentally, this can either be liberating or inhibiting. Will I trust my safety? Or fear unseen dangers? It doesn't take much to tip it either way.
One day, then a second day, of fog and I start to question myself. It's hard to gain clarity when you can't see the path. From experience I know the path is there but do I want to fight my fears to feel safe to walk it?
And then, in a New England minute, the fog rolls away and the most divine and glorious day is unveiled. I breathe a joyous sigh of relief. I can move forward with a sense of direction. There are wide expanses before me and so many directions I can't count. Everything is possible. That night, the sky is filled with a million stars I can't see most of the year. All is well and I am so happy to be home.
The next morning, the fog is back. And while it's still wonderful to be here, it's not as wonderful. Being in fog can be very disorienting. From experience, you know where things are - certain landmarks, for example. But you can't see them. It's back to trust. Trusting yourself and your own memory and intuition to guide you.
And it's a bit like homesickness. Needing to see those people and places that you remember, but time and space have relegated to foggy recesses. You know they are there, but just out of sight and reach. For me, it's about trusting that beneath the fog there is always a glorious day. If I can trust that, I can enjoy the beauty and stillness of the foggy days.
I love the power of story and story telling and writing is an integral part of my healing journey. More about me here.