I was listening to an audiotape of a talk by Joan Borysenko recently in which she talked about the liminal space between the "no longer" and the "not yet." This is a space of new beginnings, a transformational stage when doors from the past have closed, but the doors to the future haven't yet appeared. It's not a space of waiting, though. Instead, it's a place of being.

Don't ask me why I find this so intriguing. I live my life--and I write--by mining the past, and fantasizing about the future. If there's a space I've rarely been comfortable inhabiting, it's the here and now. And I find the idea of just "being" less transformative than terrifying. I'm very skilled at avoiding being in the moment, because being in the moment requires my full presence, and that in turn requires being inside of, fully acknowledging and taking responsibility for the expression of my feelings. Somewhere back in that past I like to examine from afar, I learned to deny and sublimate feelings, usually by substituting food for anger, sadness, or fear. The idea of simply being in my fear or my anger and feeling it--all the way down to ground zero--was never an option.

Something has changed.

It might be the fact that in a period just eight months, I recently lost my aunt, my sister, my father, and a close friend. My sister's loss was entirely unexpected; both my aunt and my father had been ill a very long time. My friend fought cancer for two years, and she was fully present throughout the experience. I watched with awe as she peeled away layer after layer of denial, fear and anger until she was left with nothing but the present moment and the knowledge of her own mortality--very much in the land between the "no longer" and the "not yet." Her courage humbled me, and made me want to emulate her. And so, when the time came, I chose to be present with my father, to be witness to the process of his dying, and to companion him as far as I could-- because, unlike my friend, my father never came to peace with his dying, unless it was in those very last moments, when his body took over and brought him out of denial and into the present moment. That seems to be where truth lives.

Something happened to me over those months. I stopped fearing death, and I stopped fearing my own emotions. I started feeling my feelings, claiming my truths, and becoming willing to live with uncertainty and ambiguity in nearly every area of my life. 

This has been anything but comfortable--and it isn't like I don't backslide a lot. Still, it's made me feel more alive, more a part of myself, than I ever remember feeling before.  I'm taking each day less for granted. In moments when I do backslide into mindlessness, denial or negative thinking, it's made me an interested and indulgent observer of my own behavior--the patient mother watching the antics of a spoiled and overtired child who needs a nap. For the most part, I've gotten off my own back, and this is definitely new behavior.  An unexpected side effect is that it'made me less concerned about what other people think, more willing to take risks.  

I don't know where this journey is taking me, but it's a fascinating ride, an "E-ticket" for those that remember them. 

So here I sit, in an airplane at 30,000 feet, on my way home from visiting a friend in Oregon, with not a clue as to what tomorrow will bring, but in the knowledge that, God willing, I'll be fully present for it.

Or not. And that will be another story.


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Perfect, Dixie. This is a wonderful piece, thank you for sharing it!
-- Susan, 10/3/14