What’s in the liminal space?
This threshold of hesitation in my face
Now is the time to seek and wait,
while things can happen according to fate.
In this time of transition,
we control these options within our position.
Hold tight, I will connect my poetry preface within….
Like most people, (I would assume) I’ve had the Olympic fever for the last couple of weeks. I cheer for sports and events that I don’t typically (make that – ever) watch, but my American-ness calls out to me. Throughout the games, the athletes are always asked if they will be making a run for the NEXT games. At times, this is to inquire if they will do this to maintain their medal and position as an Olympian. Other times it seems consoling (to the athlete and the fans) about not performing at their peak by medaling. In case you are wondering there are about 1444 days until the next Winter Olympics in 2018 (theolympicgamescountdown.com). This thought about the next 1444 days started me to think about where I would be at that time. How will I “train” during these days, and how what have I done over the last Olympic quad (that’s Olympics-speak)?
The concept of liminal space occurred to me. Until about a year ago I had no idea about this concept of liminal space. A friend was telling me that, at the time, I was in this space. He continued to tell me that “they” (that ethereal committee that seems to make a ruling on everything) say this is the best place to me. Back to my introductory verse…this liminal word comes from the Latin for threshold. It’s that space between the chapters, like that half to three-quarters of blank space at the end of chapter X before the start of chapter Y on the facing page. It is the period of transition, waiting, and not knowing. That point that can make us feel uneasy about what’s going to happen, but we aren’t really sure. Even when we KNOW what is going to happen this liminal space can be a little disconcerting. I think it is safe to say that human behavior causes us to “expect the worse” and prepare for “the other shoe to drop” rather than just letting go and knowing that the right thing will happen for our future. I will quote my grandma here, she said, “everything happens for a reason.” My personal approach to life is there’s no such thing as coincidence, stuff happens for a reason. Not all reasons are mind numbing or earth shattering, but nevertheless they are reasons.
Back to the concept of our ability to handle this waiting-transition-not-knowing gap that will likely occur over the next 1,445 to 14,450 days of our lives. As Mary Morrissey says, “if we breathe for another 365 days we will create another year in our life.” And the truth is we really want that to happen. The liminal spaces in our lives are GOOD…we WANT them…we NEED them to occur. William Bridges (Managing Transitions, 1991) has a 3-step model for these changes – (1.) Ending, letting go, (2.) Neutral Zone, (3.) New beginnings. If we don’t stop or let go of some things can we really make a change? That neutral zone is LIMINAL SPACE. Finally, our next chapter and forward movement is in number three. Seth Godin says in Linchpin, “Every single person, has been a genius at least once…if you can do it one time you can do it again” (p. 99).
Look at it this way – our liminal space is LIMITLESS. Each of us has the ability to handle the transition. Everything is a thought before it becomes an action. Tune your intention on building more of, and a better you. Welcome the change and make it work for you. What was your last threshold? What will you do with your next neutral zone?