Here we are, three years later, and we can finally acknowledge we are in a post-COVID (pandemic) world. What was I thinking when I thought I could just pick up where I left off. Get back to “normal”.
Liminal space refers to the place a person is in during a transitional period. I haven’t been holding my breath for 3 years. The pandemic years were “liminal space”. Many have talked about; dreamed about getting back to normal. However, for many of us, the COVID years were not just a time out, they were a time of upheaval and self-discovery. Like most disasters, truths have been revealed — truths that we try to hide when we are living a lie, pretending that continuous growth is good for the world, that the major political systems are working together for good, that climate change will work itself out without everyone sacrificing their way of life. Liminal space is a time of awareness where we reassess what is important and what is not, as we wonder how we will move forward.
A book on the best seller list called: The Myth of Normal: Trauma, illness and healing in a toxic culture, by Gabor Mate and Daniel Mate, looks directly at our toxic way of life. The writers call us to focus on healing in a world/a lifestyle that is killing us. For many of us, when we try to get back to normal, we find we have changed. What looked so positive then, looks unsustainable now. We find that the world around us is coming apart as we are faced with insurmountable problems — war, climate change, racial and religious conflict and a fractured community. It is clear to me that greed and selfishness does not create a path forward to wholeness and health. What we think we want to get back to no longer feels quite right.
My journey through the pandemic was a forced contemplative time that included reading The Inner Work of Age: Shifting from Role to Soul by Connie Zweig. It speaks to the situation of people living longer after retirement, into a stage of life she calls “Late Life”. The book speaks to everyone but is specifically intended for people like me who are transitioning to a new phase of life. She talks about using the contemplative practices of listening, awareness and reflection to help us connect with our heart and soul. That is our inner work. Many senior’s groups seem to have the goal of “keeping us young” by being active and giving back. There is a place for this thinking, but first one needs be in touch with the sacred self and the inner voice that gives direction and purpose. I bought the book when I was attending a workshop over a year ago, but I still haven’t finished the book because it is a workbook, not just a book of good ideas. Inner Work! My wife and I are both turning 80 this summer. We find ourselves reminiscing about our past and how we got here while wondering about possible futures, yearning to get back to some activities such as traveling and seeing more friends in person. Continue reading