Wednesday’s Words

In my Monday post (and yesterday’s post as well), I mentioned that over the last few years, the number of synchronicities with seemingly-random words coming into my awareness and proliferating of their own accord has increased. Whether this is because I love words and their nuances, or because I’m reading more (for coursework and pleasure, now that my brain seems capable of reading and processing again), or because my teachers in both my recent yoga and meditation certification courses explored words and movement so deeply, I don’t know.

What I do know is that I can’t deny these occurrences. How often do you have a conversation with a friend, then read a few pages of memoir, then turn on the radio and hear the same word within a few hours’ time? Maybe often, I don’t know. For me, that’s an invitation from someone higher than me to investigate why I’m hearing that word. I’m a journaler, so noticing those things and exploring them is what I’m here to do.

I’m currently most fascinated by liminal. I find it most interesting of the options because it’s not a word I recall using in life, mostly because I didn’t have a complete grasp on the definition. Yes, I Googled. I’m not a dictionary. I first heard the word on Saturday in a conversation about the flow of energy and thought. I liked it, and decided to google to clarify. Sunday morning, I read it from a book, but only shortly before hearing it in a podcast later that morning. Imagine my surprise when it came up in conversation Sunday afternoon over coffee. That’s the way these things happen. I don’t have to work for the connection.

Obviously more common words pop up in conversation, texts, etc., but tell me–how many times this week did you use liminal? And do you know what it means? My point exactly.

Anyway, I’m liking liminal. There are, obviously, all types of interpretation, but I feel the one most applicable to me at the moment is in my career. I mentioned that I’ve started working on an idea of retiring in five years, and that puts me in a very unfamiliar place. For people who’ve had multiple jobs or careers or work in life, this is probably a less intrusive thought, but for a person who has only worked one job for the entirety of her adult life, I have never taken that step to think truthfully about retirement. Have I wanted to? You have no idea. Only every other day. But bad investments by the teacher’s retirement system which takes you from the starting point that you can retire in 30 years, then 35, then 35 and at the age of 60, you somewhat give up on the idea of ever retiring and believe you will die at your classroom desk, face down on a stack of papers to grade with a red pen in your hand (I might as well milk that image for all I can, though I don’t grade with red pen).

The liminality arrives with the idea that holy cow, I can actually retire. I can be a different human being while I still have energy and the ability to do what I want in life, not die behind my desk. So the transition before the liminal space is me in the current view that I will never retire and be “that” teacher for all of my life–and the liminal space is not having any idea of what it takes to get to actual retirement, but being allowed to actually think about, contact people, plan, and make decisions for it. The liminal space for me is not in the phase of waking up as a retired person (that really makes me sound old, and I am not), because for most of my teaching life I have known what I want to do with my life when I became a grown up outside the classroom.

But the getting from the end point of never believing to seeing how the idea comes together into something tangible is the chasm I’d label as liminal. I know who I am now, but won’t know what changes are going to happen between now and that end point of actually not having to wake up at 4am to teach on that beautiful winter morning when I can simply sit with coffee and my notebook for a few hours and go for a walk when the sun comes up.

If life is lived in the journey, not the certainty, then life is a liminal space of sorts, is it not? Where do you feel a liminal space in your life?