Neither here nor there

Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.
N.R. Narayana Murthy
1946 –

While you may not have heard the term ‘liminal space’, you’ve almost certainly experienced the phenomenon at some point. Liminal space can be either literal or figurative — a transitional place, period, or experience. The airport is a good literal example: an in-between place, the gateway between your point of origin and your destination.

The upcoming winter holidays are often considered liminal times, bridging the old year and the new.  These days can feel stagnant to some, while others are energized by the reprieve from everyday routines.

In many ways, the pandemic has produced a long period of liminal space. So many old routines and habits have been put aside to safeguard our health, and we don’t know how long this period will last or precisely what the future will look like.

Living in liminal space can be uncomfortable. Our instinct is to move in one direction or the other, either going forward and diving into a new reality, or retreating into the old and familiar. Either way, the urge is to leave the transitional period behind and be settled again.

Unfortunately, we can’t control the pace of time, and we can’t always control our circumstances. The current in-between period may be uncomfortable, but for the moment, we’re stuck there.

So how can you cope with the ongoing discomfort of this transitional time?

For a start, remember that it will end. The days will pass and another year will come around. And scientists will discover new and better ways to treat and control the coronavirus, making it safer to resume old activities.

Next, recognize that your discomfort comes from resistance, from wanting your current situation to be different from reality. Try to avoid wishful thinking, and don’t compare your present circumstances to a romanticized past. The more you can accept your current life, the better you’ll feel.

Finally, use this transitional time to explore new possibilities. What paths are open to you that weren’t before? Or are there paths you chose not to follow at one time but you might want to embrace now? Look for those opportunities and consider whether pursuing them might prove fruitful.

Don’t resist this transitional time, and try not to waste it. Accept and embrace every part of your life so that you won’t have regrets later.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them — that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.
Lao Tzu
c. 604 – c. 531 B.C.

Copyright © 2020 Cheryl Chancellor

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