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Liminal Space and Liminal Discourse

I learned from a very young age what was expected in our society. I learned quickly how to meet expectations, play popular roles, and contribute in all the appropriate manners to the time and place I had been thrust into.

This was done partly out of a “throwness,” or what Heidegger would describe as Facticity. Facticity is the historical context during which our lives take place. It also describes the subtle ways in which our time and place inform and engulf our existence. It is not something that we necessarily encounter face-to-face or something that we can completely define, reject, or accept.

This was also done out of simple youth. I was a ripple in a raging river, moving with the current towards some mysterious delta of "success." Thankfully, by divine grace, my complicity in our societal current has been steadily jarred by the recognition of a much larger ecosystem around us. Life is full of beautiful challenges and detours, that if we take with eyes and ears open, might deeply change the perspective of our souls and bring us to a sacred ground, or Liminal Space. 

In anthropology, liminality is an ambiguity or transitional space for the participants in rituals, between certain rites. It is when the participant is between what they were prior to the ritual and what they will be after the ritual. For example, the moment my wife was walking down the aisle, I stood at a threshold. I was between what was, and what was to come. I was not yet a husband and I was no longer a fiancé.

Liminal Space, more broadly, can be defined as the space between “what was” and “what’s next”. It is a space defined by disorientation, evaluation, not-knowing, and waiting. It is a space that our society often rejects and abhors in every encounter. Often, success in our society could be defined as the ability to avoid liminal space. I take complete issue with this position. I believe that if we are willing to engage with it, Liminal Space can be the most transformative time of our lives. It is the space where true growth and discovery occur. It is a challenge, but it ought to be our goal to celebrate and embrace Liminal Space with joy.

I have personally found that standing mindfully at a threshold between “what was” and “what’s next” has torn back the veil on what a good life could look like - filled with true happiness, compassion, and humility. And I want more. I want more of that than I want the comforts and safety of direction, career, and success.

Let’s stand at the threshold and look out across the setting sun blanketing the West Mesa and share a cigarette. Let’s wonder what we were and what we might be, and maybe discover who we are. I want to be part of closing the gap, paying my dues, and pushing for progress. To do so, I hope that I may engage with my fellow Sherwood Desert dwellers and create some Liminal Discourse – a synthesis and product of community standing at a threshold, willing to engage with it all, together. 

Steven William Hawking: January 8, 1942 - March 14, 2018

Discourse is All There Is