Liminal spaces, transitions, are often challenging for me. The space and time between point A and point B scares me. The unknown, and how my expectations leap ahead, creates that fear.
I expect things to go south really fast. I expect I’ll get hopes and wishes crushed. I imagine how I’ll not to be ready for the impact.
Early on in life I learned to always brace for impact.
With a mother who continuously struggled with schizophrenia, there was never any logic, let alone control in my world. The other shoe was always dropping and it was dropping outside of the laws of gravity or any other context. So I learned to brace, hold my breath, lock my knees and expect the worst in order to not get knocked over.
It has been found that doing this, bracing for impact instead of rolling with what comes, is attributed to motion sickness. I learned this at some point in my research prior to my journey to Antarctica last fall, with the anticipated crossing of the Drake passage.
Once on the ship, crossing the Drake I tried to embody what I’d learned. I practiced letting go; going with the flow. I began to trust gravity, and tucked safely in my cot in a cozy cabin, I closed my eyes and yielded to the rhythm of high waves rocking me for more than 48 hours. I didn’t get sick, and felt closer to nature than ever before. The laws of physics applied, and held me safely once I trusted.
Last night, when I learned that one of my closest friends, a woman I adore, admire and love deeply, has terminal pancreatic cancer, I noticed my body in a different way.
I felt sadness and many other emotions, as the metaphoric ground beneath me was suddenly being shaken. Yet with intention, my initial attempt of bracing gave way to moving in the uncertainty, yielding to the unexpected, and in that fluid stance, my breath deepened.
I know her dying process will bring many emotions to the surface, and I’ll find again and again that I am bracing amidst big swells. And I also know that I now understand how to yield to that process.
This woman has taught me how to live, how to love, how to forgive. Now she is teaching me how to ride this transition as she crosses the Drake passage of life into her next phase.
She exudes a sense of trust and knowing like the captain who has sailed the passage many times back and forth. She embraces liminality . For her every moment contains the beginning, the end, and the adventure we call life.