Friday, June 9th, 2023
Sometimes, the path runs out. You’re headed along the road to success / happiness / career glory, and then suddenly… BOOM! You’re not.
Redundancy. Divorce. Illness. Loss. Business stagnation. A change in market context that makes your business unviable. Or perhaps, simply, a subtle but persistent sense that you’ve outgrown your current role, career, or relationship: that the vitality it once held has gone.
The old path has fizzled out, and a new one is not yet visible.
This in-between time – or liminal space, as it’s known in Rites of Passage – is not a comfortable place. We want to be busy. We want to be productive: driving an agenda forwards, knowing where we are headed, doing something meaningful, getting recognition and reward. We do not want to be lost. Stuck. Drained. Burned-out. Confused. Failing. Unsure of our next step.
And yet, we are.
I’ve been there several times in my life. I coach people there, regularly. So, I understand this in-between place. I respect it. I value it for the creativity and possibility it holds. And… I still don’t find it easy, when my own life takes me there.
Often, we worry that nothing is happening in this in-between space, that we’ll be stuck here forever. But things ARE happening: underground, inside you, in the world around you. Things are changing. You are changing. The key is to listen for WHAT and HOW. To bring curiosity and discernment to the situation.
Are you stuck because you are afraid, exhausted, filled with self-doubt; or has something genuinely come to an end?
Has the fire gone out entirely, or might the embers be rekindled with time, care and a shift in perspective?
What new dreams are emerging? What do you want MORE than the things you thought you wanted? How can you give yourself over to this longing, tend to it, today?
What is the next most obvious move? Will you take it, even though you don’t know where it will lead?
If anything were possible… then what?
You can’t rush these questions. Fast answers won’t allow for nuance, change, and the creativity these in-between times make possible. But you can engage with the questions, daily, actively, until things become clear. Journal, create, talk them through with a coach, friend or partner.
Say YES to not-knowing… and you may be surprised by the beauty that unfolds.
As Rilke said: “Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”