This blog post’s word is liminality and dedicated, therefore, to the inestimable Giselle Boustani. The word comes from the Latin word for “threshold,” and is defined by Wikipedia as “the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete.” A fitting word, since most of this post will be about the space between choosing one thing or another.
Life is a series of choices, and sometimes, that’s a pain in the ass. Do I stay home, with my mother who loves me, or do I go thousands of miles away and see what I become? Do I go abroad and discover new countries, or stay with my wonderful friends? Do I apply to psych grad school, get my masters in teaching, or go to law school? Could I fit an MFA in, on the way? Could I even get in, if I tried?
How many things to do, before the things you do become too much? A cup that runneth too much over is damn hard to drink.
I have been lucky enough to have mostly good choices, and perhaps lucky even to have some closed to me. I go thousands of miles away. I go abroad and discover new countries, or I don’t–they’re getting back to me. Perhaps I will postpone choosing a profession and travel the world instead. But it’s hard to decide what to base your choice upon. Money seems the obvious answer, when it comes to jobs. I want to be a writer, but I’m very well aware that requires a day job. How will I do all the things I want to do if I’m poor for the rest of my life? I’m already half-convinced I’ll be in grad school forever.
I don’t know. People keep telling me it’ll figure itself out, which based on what I know of people just means they’re not really sure how they figured it out themselves (and, if they’re over, say, thirty, that they wish they hadn’t worried so much about it when they were my age? Just a guess.) I was told the other day that I’d end up switching my job either way, that that was what the marketplace was like now. You can always change, essentially. You can always go back, and start all over. It’s a comforting thought, although the idea of the choices that would come with it…
In a world and a country and a time of my life so full of choices, it’s good to take a little time to sit down and think… or rather, cease to think. I’m a big fan of mindfulness meditation, even if I don’t do much of it in practice. So now, instead of thinking about all the choices I need to make, my three meetings tomorrow, or the fact that I don’t have a free evening all week, I’m going to do myself a little favor. Mindfulness starts with noticing what is around you, so let’s start with that.
There is tea in the yellow mug sitting on my desk. It smells like strawberries and currant, and tastes sweet and leafy. I can hear the fridge burbling softly in the corner, and out on the Massachusetts Turnpike, or perhaps Commonwealth, I hear the rev of engines. Music is playing somewhere a few rooms over, and a door somewhere in the house has just fallen shut behind someone. Here, in the room, there is a faint scent of vanilla, probably spillover from the fake vanilla flavoring hiding in the clutter on my desk. I let out a breath, and check the clock. I need to leave in fifteen minutes, get dressed and throw on makeup before then, but for a moment I can just sit, sipping from my yellow mug the tea that smells like strawberries.
I will try to publish a blog post about mindfulness later this week, but no promises. Until then, much love to all of you. Stay warm in the storm if you’re out here in Boston, and try to get on the ark before it leaves if you’re out in CA.