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Transition is Liminal

By Kenda-Ruth Stumpf

Depress: (Verb) To press or slow down, to decrease the activity of something.

A doctor uses a tongue depressor to press down the tongue; alcohol is a depressant, slowing down the central nervous system. Liminal Depression is an act of Depressing and to depress is to be in Deep Rest or Hibernation. Perhaps it can be better understood in the context of a transition that is not a crisis. Please bear with me; I am a creative writer and as such I often view and understand the world through a metaphorical lens and use poetry to guide my understanding. Though Liminality may be frightening even when a transition is not a crisis, its depression is not the prison of hopeless despair that is Clinical Depression. It is a reflection and the person not in crisis, the person who though tentative and possibly frightened, but who is not avoiding sees their reflection wavering as water ripples around them and pauses for consideration. Though Liminality may be a time of unknowing, it is also a process of discovering and can be peacefully exciting. It is what people seek at the top of Everest, in nature hikes, runner's highs, temples and monasteries. It is the peak experience brought down to physicality.

Liminality is also risky. It is that time when you must ask your Self whether to continue a path of safety which no longer contains your life force or to give it all up, sacrifice or risk your job, the respect of your peers, your family...and leap. What must a person give up to climb Everest? Will the gains be worth the losses? Yes, joy is a choice, but that does not mean there are no regrets. Leaping is an act of courage.

Midlife crisis is a loss or absence of courage. That is not to say that a person in a midlife crisis has been courageous in other aspects of life; soldiers are no less prone to midlife crisis than civilians. But it is an absence of courage in facing one's Self, in accepting feelings and emotions or integrating the past replete with either toxic or healthy shame and guilt. MLCers try to avoid the gift, the blessing offered in the journey.

The Gift

Depression is the funeral pyre
of what was,
forcing abandonment and choice:
Burn the present
or surrender and
step your charred and blistered feet
across the ashes
of what is real
only in memory
and embrace the gift.

Liminality is that space between, between time and between physicality; existence may not seem real or solid. Liminal experience may be through the standard five senses, but the other senses, those that we deny and do not understood are often enhanced. It is a different plane of awareness and experience.

I Am Not Always Solid

I Am Not Always Solid
I am liquid
I am air.
I am not always physical.
I am awareness
without substance Truth without reality.
Yet I have sense.
Visionary--
I see music,
I hear colour.
I feel the breath
of the wind
as it brushes
against my thoughts.
I am pure emotion.
Without substance,
I am without action,
ignorant how to apply
my thoughts and words to Deed.
I am lost--
I do not mind.
I cherish the Grace
and Mystery.
I embrace discovery
within stillnes.
Fear lies in unknowing
what or how to do and be.
In Time, I must learn again
how to inhale, crawl, walk,
how to feed and dress myself,
learning to be solid again.
I am an idea
floating in the space
that will become my Self.

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