A postcard from liminal space

What to do when you’re not sure what to do next

Liminal Space-The Cave

I’ve spent the last few weeks in liminal space. The space between. The time between the end of a project and the beginning of a new one. The days between summer and fall. The moment between the bottom of the inhale and the top of the exhale. The space between owning a desire and taking an action towards it.

"Liminal" comes from the Latin word limen, meaning “threshold.” Sometimes I have a clear sense of what’s at the other side of the threshold. A lot of the time I don’t. The bigger the shift from Point A to Point B, the less I know. In the words of Joseph Campbell: “If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.”

Like outer space, it can be dark out there in liminal space. Sometimes the uncertainty feels heavy and thick. Sometimes it feels cool and airy, like entering a cave. Both daunting.

So then what? There are two options: to stay still or to move forward.

It’s easy to get stuck in my head, making lists and playing out different scenarios. The mind becomes exhausted, even though I’m staying still.

Which leaves the second option: moving forward. But how? Where?

The Inner Compass

If I knew what was next, I’d plug that destination into my Inner GPS and go. When I don’t, I now open up my Inner Compass, which is basically my heart. No matter what, I know what “North” feels like–aligned and true.

I pick a small action that’s in the general direction of “North,” try it out, and see how it feels.

Sometimes an action feels just right. Comfortable and familiar, like walking around in my favorite shoes. Sometimes it feels totally off. One time, I felt a little tightness in my chest, as if a palm were wrapped around the back of my heart, its fingertips squeezing the edges. Clear feedback not to pursue that direction at this time.

Pushing through limits

Limen is also the root word for “limit.” In the darkness, I’ve stumbled upon limits I didn’t even know I was carrying. Those internal stories feel like a heavy giant sitting on my chest, keeping me still by pinning me to the floor. Each day, I rewrite those stories and gently push forward.

In this interstitial space, I’ve felt the presence of those limits. For me, they’re internal stories that have stopped me from sharing my creative work more broadly. Internal stories that were capping my ability to receive love from those closest to me.

As a result, I've been upgrading aspects of how I see myself. I've been letting go of Life Timelines that I had been holding myself to. I've been opening myself up to receiving the love of others, learning to trust them and myself more in the process. Each time I rewrite those stories, I feel like I'm pressing my hand against a heavy door and pushing it open. I feel expansive. The cool air feels fresh.

Over the last few weeks, it’s been: 1) Take a small action, 2) Feel, 3) Repeat. Eventually, the small actions start to converge.

This time, they’ve converged towards encouraging me to share my story in ways I was (oddly) too shy to do so before. One small step I’m taking each day is sharing a little bit of my art, writing, and process on Instagram. I invite you to follow along! >>