I pushed off almost six months ago, yet I feel as though I’m suspended in liminal space, existing in that time between the ‘what was’ and the next chapter of my life. It’s a place of transition and transformation, yet it’s also a place of waiting and the unknown.
I look around and all I can see is mess, but also, a work-in-progress. The cosmetic work we’re having done to our home is taking longer than I anticipated and as a result, the entire contents of our upstairs are downstairs and our boxed-up belongings surround our dining room table like vigilant soldiers. Dozens of fashion magazines – my weakness – are piled high around me. Gorgeous women with implied perfect hair, skin, wardrobes and lives glare at me accusingly from the covers, but I refuse to feel ashamed of the glorious imperfection that is my life. I turn the magazines over so the women are forced to look the other way. If only it were as easy for me to not see the constant chaos that surrounds me.
The state of our home is the perfect metaphor for my life. In order to create something beautiful I must first create disarray, let things go, fix what is broken and be willing to endure setbacks along the way.
I’ve been in this exact same place over and over again and I can’t help but wonder why I find myself here so frequently. Yet this time also feels vastly different; in the past I’ve maintained a transient frame of mind, always living as though I’m passing through on my way to somewhere else. But aren’t we all, in the end? This time I feel grounded, in a positive way. Even as life sends a stream of bad news and multiple challenges in my direction, I’ve still been able to see the kindness and joy in what has often felt like a cruel and sad world.
I finally have what I didn’t even know I was seeking: The ability to create and pursue bold dreams which shine brightly ahead of me, lighting a path to the future, without sacrificing my everyday delight and happiness in the smallest of things. I’ve been able to see beauty, even when life has felt brutal. I’ve stopped focusing only on getting ‘there’, at the expense of forgetting to be ‘here’, in this moment.
I’ve remembered who I am and of late I’ve allowed myself space to just be, instead of trying to force things, knowing that everything will come together in the end, exactly the way it’s all meant to.
Rather than trying to tick 27 things off my list each day, I’ve been content if I only manage three. I’ve been completely present in the company of people I love instead of always thinking ahead to the next event. Rather than bearing the usual weight of guilt I’ve carried for being a neglectful friend, I’ve granted myself some grace; over the past four years I’ve done the best I can and in many ways, I needed to put some distance between me and other people in order to figure out who I am and what I want. I needed that time to reconnect with my body and my intuition, to learn what it means to trust myself – something we’re rarely taught – even though it’s the life skill I’ve come to cherish the most. I’ve learned to celebrate what I have achieved, rather than focusing on what I haven’t.
Yet amongst all of this I do still feel the old, familiar tug of desire to begin again, to completely start over. I return to the page again and again to write and I feel insignificant and small and without a voice of my own. I wake up early each morning with lines of text running through my mind, but when I attempt to capture them they disappear, it’s as though they floated away on the breeze when I opened the bedroom window.
My mind spins, why am I finding it so difficult to write? Why am I still in this liminal space? Why can’t I just transition smoothly from one chapter of my life to another, rather than feeling like I need to stop and start afresh, over and over again?
The nights are slowly beginning to draw in. I turn the lights down low, watch the flames flicker as I light candles before placing a vase of fresh flowers on the dining table. I get so much pleasure from preparing food and sharing it with David on the nights he’s not abroad with his work. It’s a ritual I treasure; I love these calm moments at the end of crazy days, the opportunity to connect and converse, it’s a habit instilled in me by my parents. One I’m grateful for and will forever hold onto, sharing meals at the table shouldn’t only be reserved for restaurants or special occasions.
At some point in the evening, I look back over my shoulder to the times spent in liminal space throughout my life. I know what I’ve been trying to put my finger on these past few months; the importance of capturing and sharing what illuminates our lives the most, the rituals we create that form a firm foundation for our lives, especially during tumultuous times.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
I lie on my back in bed and stare into the darkness, I narrow my consciousness to the place where I once willed myself to fade away, because all I did then was exist, rather than live, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. Only I do know now, I know who I am and what I need. However, I believe I must capture how I got here, to this place where beauty and terror can co-exist. I need to capture it for others, but maybe also for myself; for the days when I might forget who I am.
It’s morning again. I stand and look out the window at a dark, foreboding sky. I listen to the mail hitting the floor as it’s shoved through the letterbox. I clean the kitchen counter of breakfast debris, put a load of washing on and make myself some tea. I prepare to write. I know that until I capture all the ways I remembered who I am, I cannot truly move forward in either my life or my writing. I need to capture them; for you, and for me, in case I forget.
© 2018 Esther Zimmer