I was looking through my journals because I am so excited that I have started writing again, that I wanted to take pen to paper. (Remember paper?) I flipped through some of the poetry that I wrote and I can’t believe it’s been ten years since I wrote regularly. Ten years! So much has happened since then. I have been inspired lately by some of my friends who blog, and the challenges and prompts are all about finding oneself and improving. I am more about embracing, exploring and experiencing right now. I realize that I have been through quite a transformation in my life in the past decade. In 2002 I was struggling. Writing helped. Reading over what I wrote helps a lot. One of the journals that I wrote back then I called “I Love My Life.” I was just learning about acceptance and loving the moment.
If I imagine myself on a threshold of new possibilities, I consider that there is much more to learn and so much more to experience. I read Patti Digh’s article on Liminal Spaces and began to think of how I really enjoy the space that I am in at the moment. A liminial space is that space in-between, “not the here or the there, but the not here and not there.” Digh calls this the transition zone. It’s the moment of release before a trapeze artist would catch the new bar. Like swinging on monkey bars, you must let go and swing to the next one. It is the exhilarating moment that you are in the air. And I feel as though I am weightless, flying through life right now.
Digh describes this space as the moment that there is nothing to hold on to. It is the moment when we are flying that the real changes occur. It is when we are “the most present, most alive, most vulnerable, most human.” She suggests that we “cross the threshold, enjoy the space between and fly.”
I am ready for this! After I turned forty and both my parents and, more recently, my sister passed away, I felt like I was at a point that I could express my thoughts and feelings openly. I was not as concerned with what others thought of me anymore. I was less likely to seek approval. I am the mom now. I developed into a person that I liked. When some of my friends were going through divorce or major career and life changes, I was at a strong point in my marriage and in my life. Healthy and active, financially stable (for the most part) and generally happy and satisfied. I am grateful for this. I am especially grateful after reading through my journals because it reminded me that it did not come easily.
The monkey bar that was so difficult to let go of was the feeling that I needed to make something of myself. I wanted so desperately to be something. I felt as though I should have a degree, or advance in my career, or make a difference in some way. I thought that I needed to honor my parents’ hopes and dreams for me and please them by becoming a successful professional of some type. My family situation was somewhat unique in that my siblings were teenagers when I was born, so pleasing my brother and sister was also a goal I had. My sister was (I can admit this now) like a mother to me. She and my brother led the way for me, inspired me and watched over me like parents. I only realized how much my parents loved me unconditionally when I had my own children. I know the love that my brother and sister felt for me because I feel it towards my nieces and nephews. Once they started to grow up I began to exert expectations on them – out of love. Putting expectations on myself was, as Digh puts it, “the illusion we put up to avoid where the real change occurs.”
This explains why I am so much happier now. I am free. I am flying! I have released that bar and I am stretching forward to the next one. I know in my heart that my parents are proud of me for the person I have become. More importantly, I am proud of myself!
To laugh often and love much;
to win respect of intelligent persons
and the affection of children,
to learn the appreciation of honest critics;
To appreciate beauty;
to give of oneself,
to leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed
and sung with exultation;
To know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived –
That is to have succeeded.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson