Let me take you on a train journey to a distant destination. We are going to change a few trains along the way. We step into the first train, make ourselves comfortable and surrender. There is a certain nervousness to the process which accompanies us throughout the whole trip. Will I be in time for my next train? Why did we stop moving? Is it my stop? We keep on checking the sheet with directions where all the steps of the journey are listed. Everything is prepared, given to us to ensure we arrive where we need to. In the process, though, we forget the destination, preoccupied with the steps in-between, we don’t hold the final destination in mind. We move from one place to another, shifting between checking the time and updating the map.
For me the moments in the train are the most exciting borderline anxious. When I don’t know the route and it requires good planing I become more alert feeling unprepared to what the future might bring. For that reason, I sometimes find it difficult to surrender to the train and allow it to take me to the next stop while I enjoy the passing vistas. Once I arrive to the next station, I rush to the platform, even if I have plenty of time to transfer. This platform is a space of safety which will take me to the new destination. Now I just have to wait for the train. These places of transition, in-between things, are charged with one of a kind energy. Being in these liminal spaces means we are stuck without the possibility to accelerate the process. It will take as long as it takes, regardless of our desires. I bet we all have experienced this as there is a peculiar quality to the experience of being in transitional place.
In social sciences liminality is described as the ambiguity or disorientation that occurs during the stage of transition. From psychological perspective the concept refers to the state where one lands without an idea of what will come next. A space where the old order is demolished but the new order isn’t established yet. The dissolution of an old structure during liminality creates a fluid situation that enables new things to emerge. This comes with several consequences worth mentioning. As we know, the feeling of being in an unknown territory can be unpleasant. When we lose the ground under our feet we are risking to fall down. On the other hand, liminal spaces are truly magical - they open up possibilities to explore new ground and carry powerful reproductive capacity. The not-knowing is always a state of transition. Some last longer than others but It will always end in transition and change. The only purpose a liminal space has is to make sure to contain us for as long as we need before the next phase. It is a wonderful place to surrender to. Trying to get out earlier then we should has no sense, we can’t speed it up. Being there requires us to give in to something outside of our control and trust that when the time is right, the next train will arrive. It seems important to be able to stay in these spaces and be surrounded with uncertainty and the fear that comes with it. Liminality is where we can rest in waiting, grab coffee and dream of a future destination. Every journey needs a break.