We were driving to the coast a couple of weeks ago. There are a few different routes we could take and since my husband and I differ in our choice of the ‘best’ way, we tend to go one way and come home another. The thing about living so far from a major highway means there are a lot of miles to cover on country roads. Although I wished we lived in a place where we didn’t have to travel an hour and a half to get to a road that would take us somewhere, one of the aspects of this situation is the space it allows for transition between the country and somewhere busier. That time and distance allow the space to prepare.
The other thing I like about all the distance on the country roads is the sense of a time that has passed. A glimpse of memory of a time when life wasn’t moving so quickly. You are given these snapshots in time.
On our recent trip, we drove past a derelict looking entrance to what I can only assume was a rather large estate. In its time, this entrance would have been grand. And it would have signified something. It would have been a welcoming onto a property worthy of its craftsmanship.
You couldn't see the estate from the road so I have no idea whether the grandeur of the estate went any further, or deeper, then the entrance. But I imagine the house and grounds matched what the entrance suggested.
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.
I love the power of story and story telling and writing is an integral part of my healing journey. More about me here.