“Liminal” is a derivation of the Latin word limens, which translated, means threshold. The Coronavirus has brought us to one of most visible thresholds I can recall in my life.
There are some wonderful liminal spaces, like the moments before the birth of a child, or before speaking the words, “I do.” Crossing these thresholds changes our lives forever, some in ways known, many in ways unknown. But, even with the unknowns, it seems easier to accept these happy liminal spaces as a fact of life.
There have been terrible liminal moments, too, like the 9/11 terrorist attacks that changed many of our lives forever. Even on a personal level, liminal spaces follow divorce, or even an empty nest. What comes next?
When I’ve talk to friends and family, I’ve learned that much of the stress during this time is due to the uncertainty of what’s next. The past seems like a distant world, and now, no longer in our comfort zones, we worry about how our lives will change. What lies across the threshold?
The truth is, it doesn’t matter what lies across the threshold. There’s very little we can do about it, except adjust and evolve as necessary.
I believe transition periods and the resulting change can be good, even if the circumstance that brings it about is pretty awful.
- You’re pushed outside of your comfort zone. Every time I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone, I’ve learned something about myself, or about someone else. Sometimes I’ve failed, and sometimes I’ve succeeded. But I’ve learned more from my failures. And life went on.
- You get to experience [and learn] more. During this self-isolation period, I’ve learned to work from home. I’ve familiarized myself with online communication sites such as Zoom, to keep in touch with friends and family. I’ve gone for more walks and have been more “awake” to things I used to take for granted, like trees blossoming, pairs of ducks waddling around, a heron’s graceful take flight.
- You get to find out who you really are. For me, rather than learning who I really am, I’ve let more of who I really am come out. I’m someone who “goes along to get along,” and throughout most of my life, that’s worked just fine. But I’ve found that being “isolated” at home for a long period of time with my husband, Steve, with whom I’m grateful to get along, I’ve found I state my preferences for something more…shall we say…”demonstratively.” Also, though I still have the inclination to withhold some of my opinions on social media, I have noticed I’ve become more open and honest about my opinions. Just as important as finding out who I am, I think this stage of transition has also helped me to learn more about who others are, both in the things they say, and in the things they don’t say.
- Makes you more flexible and adaptable. Though I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a control freak, I tend not to be very flexible or adaptable. But during this time, I’ve accepted that there’s very little I can control, except, to the best of my abilities, take care that we have enough groceries and other supplies and do my part to maintain social distance. Other than that, there’s not much I can do except wait it out, and be kind as I do so. Like the song my mother always used to sing to me say, “What will be, will be.”
- You have more fun. Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m having more fun. I miss seeing my family and friends. I miss going out to see a movie, have a drink or dinner. But, I do have more time–probably more time than I’d like, and that took me awhile to adjust to. Fortunately, I’m able to work from home, so that takes up 8 hours a day. With 8 hours of sleep, that leaves me another 8 other hours to figure out what to do with myself. So, I’ve been blogging more, spending way more time (too much, I’d say) on social media, working on the illustrations for my children’s book Magical Red Kimono, and writing children’s stories for my grandchildren. And, I’d have to say, I’ve been having fun with it all.
Who knows what life will be like when the worst of this virus is over. All I know is, in many ways, it likely will not be the same. But between endings and beginnings lies a liminal space. A space that’s open and clear. A space to start anew.
“I like to live always at the beginnings of life, not at their end. We all lose some of our faith under the oppression of mad leaders, insane history, pathologic cruelties of daily life. I am by nature always beginning and believing…”
~ Anaïs Nin