Updated: May 23, 2021
The United States is well on its way to vaccinating almost half of its population, cities are opening up again and many of us are enjoying activities we have not enjoyed in over a year.
From reading my prior blog posts (see https://austinsrosenthal.wixsite.com/austinfromaustin/blog/categories/arts-and-culture for the Arts and Culture subcategory on this Social Musings blog), many of you know that I search for spirituality and meaning in a variety of different ways, but I certainly find solace and inspiration in the arts and culture. While on two recent Whitney Museum of American Art virtual broadcasts, I heard the term “liminal space”.
After searching this term on Google, I found the following definition:
"Liminal spaces are transitional or transformative spaces. They are the waiting areas between one point in time and space and the next.
Often, when we are in liminal spaces, we have the feeling of just being on the verge of something. Liminal space is, of course, a literal space. And there are plenty of examples of physical liminal spaces, as we will see below in this article. But there are also spaces of liminality in our mental states. This, too, is a type of liminal space."
According to the above definition, I believe we as a society are living in a liminal space at this current time. Many global citizens are hopefully ending our lockdowns and beginning to resume our “normal” lives again; yet, will life ever be what it was before COVID? Are we not in a strange waiting area between the past and the future?
Author and Franciscan friar Richard Rohr describes liminal space as:
“where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin. Get there often and stay as long as you can by whatever means possible…This is the sacred space where the old world is able to fall apart, and a bigger world is revealed. If we don’t encounter liminal space in our lives, we start idealizing normalcy.”
The New York Times recently published an article about the new “YOLO Economy” (see below).
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/21/technology/welcome-to-the-yolo-economy.html. The article begins:
“Something strange is happening to the exhausted, type-A millennial workers of America. After a year spent hunched over their MacBooks, enduring back-to-back Zooms in between sourdough loaves and Peloton rides, they are flipping the carefully arranged chessboards of their lives and deciding to risk it all.”
I am a perfect example of this emerging YOLO Economy trend. Due to the pandemic and my general malaise about my life (work, relationships, health, etc), I made the decision during the pandemic to leave my high-powered, high-stress job and simply focus on myself. For as long as I can remember, accomplishment in my career was THE most important (AND ONLY) yardstick for my personal happiness. I sacrificed my marriage, relationships with friends and family and even my own health for career advancement and financial reward.
No wonder I wasn't truly healthy - mentally, physically or spiritually. Duh!
Ultimately, what was it all worth? And how do I want to live my life going forward?
I ask myself these questions on a daily basis. I know many of you may be asking yourselves similar types of questions on a sliding scale from: “This is a little nagging issue in my head that I wish would go away” to an “O M G what the actual F%$k am I doing with my life!?!?!”
By the way, this is completely normal cognitive behavior and something we all must do (although maybe not on a daily basis. I must say though that meditating on these things on a daily basis has helped me significantly, thanks @Headspace!!!).
I am not saying to quit your job or make major life changes like I have unless that is your intention; I am merely remarking that we should embrace change, no matter how small or large. Liminal space is essential for creativity and renewal, so today as you log into your computer or check your phone and go about your day, remember to appreciate the personal renewal unfolding in your life. Things can and will be better, and you have an important hand in making our world a better place.
Please share your thoughts and comment below on how you are dealing with your own personal liminal space and how you think society will change after the pandemic (if at all).
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