A Liminal Time

I sincerely hope this finds you and yours in good health and in a stable financial and living environment.

I know I am far better off than many – my spouse and I both have stable jobs where we can work from home and haven’t missed a paycheck.  We live in the country where we have more than enough space, fresh air, a beautiful deck and screened porch to enjoy in nice weather.  We have always been naturally “socially distant” as soon as we drove up our driveway at the end of a workday – we just didn’t know it!

Consequently, I have the mental bandwidth to consider more than how to pay my bills on dwindling income, or how to keep staff employed after shuttering a business.  In that mindset, I wanted to share with you something that is new to me.

I was introduced recently to the concept of “liminal”.  It is a feeling of ambiguity or disorientation that comes from being on the threshold of something new – not really where you were before, but not yet arrived at where you are going.

These past few months – and probably the next several – are examples of liminal time.  We are no longer the society, the businesses, the people, we were before we first heard the term “Covid-19”.  We are not yet the people we will be when we can “return to normal”.  We are in a very transitory time, where making plans is almost impossible, and conditions change even faster than we thought they ever could.

I have heard people talking about returning to normal.  I have also heard people talking about never returning to normal, but instead designing a new and better normal to live into.

Some people have also felt a sense of time weighing heavy on their hands, and not knowing how to fill it.  I joked early on that clearly “I’m not doing this right – because I’m BUSY!”  Trying to set up a second home office so we could both work from home, obtaining additional bandwidth so we could actually participate in video meetings, thinking through the things I needed from the other office before hunkering down here for an indeterminate amount of time – these things all required time and energy.  And I didn’t even have to figure out how to also accommodate kids needing to do school from home – yikes!

Now that those things are all settled, and the new routine has become comfortable, I’m spending some of that energy to look forward more and consider designing a better normal to live into after we emerge from this – and we will emerge from this.  As you do the same, my hope for all of us is that we find ourselves – a year or more from now – in a society where we are more open to diversity, where we are more prepared for the unexpected and less fearful of the future, and where we can once again gather in large groups to celebrate the milestones in life or just to relish a joyful time.

Meanwhile, know that we are still in that liminal time.  We are no longer where we were just a few months ago and will probably never be that same society again.  But we can – and should – be something much better.

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