Fresh out of engineering, I found myself right in the middle of two significant phases of my life. I was in a “limbo.” I knew that engineering wasn’t for me. At the same time, I was struggling to figure out what I wanted to do next.
Similarly, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has put us in a state of suspended animation. We’re well beyond all the plans we had made at the beginning of the year. But we’re uncertain about what lies ahead.
We are in the state of liminality — right in the middle of our rite of passage.
Technically, we’re always in a state of flux. We’re moving from one job to another, one person to another, or just evolving on a cellular level. However, our liminality is now far more concrete than ever.
We’re inhabiting it longer than we had anticipated, and we’re trying hard to transition to a phase that promises a new “normal.”
The reason why the term liminality holds so much heft now is because it perfectly captures what we’re going through. The pandemic has shattered our daily rhythms, patterns, and manageability. In turn, we’re devoid of a sense of purpose.
However, in all the ambiguity that comes with this threshold, there’s also an upside that we’ve overlooked. There’s a revolutionary power that has helped us rise above our day-to-day snags and think as a community. Not as individuals. There’s a subtle force guiding us to a better future that promises new birth, better awareness, and more meaning.
There’s no such thing as job security.
Often, hidden in the confinements of our locked doors. Often, concealed under our facemasks. There’s a profound opportunity to introspect and embrace all the things we previously overlooked.
For instance, the very idea of job stability is now being questioned. Full-fledged corporate jobs that offered hefty salaries and ensured stability are now proving to be indispensable. On the other hand, there’s a resurgence in the so-called “non-jobs” that offer little to no short term benefits. But guarantee far more stability in the long run.
A heightened sense of responsibility.
It is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel in the unsettling liminality arena. You’re just steering your vehicle in one direction, hoping that you won’t run into an approaching train. But the promise of transformation that awaits you towards the end cannot be missed out on. And so, it’s necessary to be aware and self-responsible towards the process that is driving you to an altered world.
Look around you and notice how self-interest now comes in tandem with our notions of responsibility towards society. Be it hospitals, departmental stores, or any public spaces. We responsibly practice social distancing. As a result, we fulfill our instinct of keeping ourselves safe while contributing to the community.
Because of the pandemic, this sense of responsibility is higher than ever. It’ll be the new normal within no time, and one can only imagine how this collective responsibility will impact the world in the long run.
Spiritual growth through liminality.
Every time I’ve found myself in a liminal space, reflecting and sharing my experiences has given me more strength to keep going. When you sit back and reflect, you allow your mind and heart to catch up with what’s going on.
You also realize that there’s no right or wrong way of getting through these times. All you have to do is find your pace, ask yourself what truly matters, and embrace the in-between vagueness.
Perceive the present times to learn more about all the unmeasurable liminal spaces that lie ahead — between jobs, between relationships, business endeavors, and the inception of every new journey.
The lessons and ideas you’ll learn from the present times will always be significant. Thus, sharing them with the world can have a lasting impact.
The Japanese Concept of Ma
The Japanese concept of Ma is almost the same as liminality. In simple words, it is defined as the void in time and space that one needs to experience before significant growth. The void is an outcome of a lack of meaning — something which many of us are experiencing at this point.
Philosophically, “Ma” is the awkward silence between conversations, the space between musical notes, and the pause between every breath we take. All of which are necessary. In a more practical sense, Ma is just the serenity that comes with being in liminality.
Before we head back to our tedious old commutes, our 9-to-5s, our weekend outings, our boring Mondays, and all the mundanes of our everyday lives, we must be in a quiet space.
A space where little sunlight is still seeping in, but there’s enough darkness for us to figure things out and find our way out.