Liminal space can present itself as a challenging period of one’s life in getting from one stage or experience to the next.
The term “liminal space” refers to a place between destinations that isn’t meant to be existed in as much as passed through.
These transitional spaces can be sensitive and vulnerable times. Sometimes they can be moments of one’s day, and other times, weeks, months, or years of one’s life.
Since my band, Elephant Revival’s final show at Red Rocks in 2018, I have been in an extended phase of liminality. It’s been a constant navigation of what to do or not do next, when to make or not make choices. Knowing when to make a move and when to stay has perhaps been the most difficult choice of all.
As I stated in a previous article, Complex Grief, PTSD & Addiction: A Concealed Truth of Life on the Road, “It is important that we are able to mark the transitions in our lives and to take the time that we need after pivotal, life-changing experiences in order to honor the space of the in-between. In this liminal space, we can begin to envision our next steps, yet in order to take them, we need time. A period of transition should be seen as an actual life phase, an opportunity, rather than an unpleasant obstacle to rush through.”
I have made many mistakes in this extended phase of the in-between. I have stopped and started only to stop and start again. I have judged and criticized myself while at the same time, drawn unneeded comparisons to colleagues and friends. I’ve reassessed my relationship to success and failure in ways I did not expect to explore. Yet the greatest success I’ve had was a choice to not run from or ignore the process.
At some point, I began to recognize the opportunity in crossing this threshold. I began to look at my shadow values and underlying core beliefs in a way I had yet to do before. I discovered underlying patterns and behaviors that kept me stifled. Simply stated, I began to do the work of knowing myself outside of the ego constructs I had created within Elephant Revival.
The process of personal transformation became much more than the glossing over of blemishes utilizing spiritual bypass as my buffer. Instead, I began to take the time to become more acquainted with the thoughts that kept me in negative feedback loops. I encountered many sleepless nights, which led to more challenging days as I slowly became acquainted with my false beliefs, as if they were my own children crying out in a dark room.
An unexpected side effect that has occurred during this process is that I have become humbled. This newfound humility is much different than the false humility I wore before. And perhaps it is the loss and setbacks that have led me to where I stand now—ready, willing, and able to know love and jump back into the current and wellspring of life.
Perhaps becoming more acquainted with ourselves in the liminal space is the greatest lesson in the process of maturation. Perhaps the only way through the threshold is to become overtly accepting of the discomfort of being in it.
Carl Jung refers to this concept as holding the tension of the opposites. In this process, we often become a vessel that births forth our finer treasures and offerings. In Jungian terminology, this points to the arrival of the transcendent third, where a new or unexpected understanding begins to emerge.
One day this space of the in-between will not only be between one life phase and the next, but rather, it will be through the ultimate threshold between life and death. Because of this inescapable fact, might it be that finding peace in the liminal space of the in-between is the greatest lesson of them all? By finding more acceptance in the discomfort of wading in liminality, might an all-abiding sense of joy be found?
At the very least, I believe it’s worth exploring.