While browsing last night, I stumbled upon the phrase “Liminal Space”.
Think of that early morning time when you float between waking and sleeping. Images from your dreams merge with the reality of your day to day life, leaving you unsure what is real and whether you are sleeping or waking. The fluid extraordinary experiences of dream life become superimposed upon the structure of waking life until that moment your brain fully awakens and you are back into the structure and routine of life as you know it. This is an example of liminal space.
The word “liminal” comes from the Latin root, limen, which means “threshold.” The liminal space is the “crossing over” space – a space where you have left something behind, yet you are not yet fully in something else.
Liminal space refers to that transitional space where you are leaving one state behind yet have not fully crossed over to the next. It is the space where transformation occurs. Dawn and dusk are liminal states between night and day.
And this time – between the lockdown and our return to “normalcy” represents this period of discomfort. This is the period where the old rules and ways of being are no longer tenable, and ultimately a shift happens that changes the course of our life. The disruptive event shifts one into liminal space where transformation can happen. We avoid liminal space as it threatens our sense of safety and familiarity. The lack of control and shift in perspective can feel a bit crazy. Often the way people enter into liminal or transitional space is to be pushed by life events, that can’t be avoided. And here, today, we as a community are facing it as a whole.
Liminal space (like this Pandemic) brings us face-to-face with our inner fears about who we are, how we show up in the world, our strengths and vulnerabilities, and our successes and disappointments. It can cause us to question the very core of our beliefs, practices, and identities.
As I reflect upon my life I come to realise that with the nature of my work…where designing spaces involves solving a new problem every day, with the nature of my fitness regime…where I challenge myself almost everyday and hence there is some movement either way- forward or backwards depending on the workout, with the nature of my writing and my reading… where my mind needs to keep expanding to absorb new thoughts and adapt itself to an ever-changing world I feel I am permanently in Liminal Space!
Why would I want the mundanity of a routine? Where each day has a set pattern?
The liminal space is an invitation to surrender. The degree to which we are comfortable or uncomfortable has to do with how we choose to be with what is happening. We can choose to fight against the liminal space and struggle or to flow with it by listening, sensing, and responding.
I thrive on this uncertainty. I embrace the challenge that is thrown to me every day. It is not easy to live with, when each day is a new day and things are in a constant state of flux. Transformation happens when we are not in charge. It cannot happen when we are holding on to control. Sometimes we need to be shaken loose from our foundations in order to be open for something bigger. This is the space where a new reality can be born. It’s a space where we can finally let go of an approach, a way of being, a role, an identity, or a belief so that something new can be created. When some days you may not know where you are headed, but we just need to keep moving.
The real question today is, how much of this “new Covid life” would you like to retain in your tomorrow?
I don’t believe in “Liminal Space”.
It is not a “Phase of Life”.
For me, it is a way of life.
Transience. The only reality.
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
~ Blaise Pascal
One thought on “What now?”
Very thoughtful and thought provoking piece. I love the change of pace.