Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Place In Between

I'm sitting on a plane, flying from Seattle to Newark as I write this. I love flying. For me, my time in the sky is ‘my time.’ I’m not where I was. I’m not yet where I’m going. I simply ‘am.’ I try to not work too much when I fly. I reserve the time for relaxation, reflection and pleasurable pursuits. No one can reach me. In flight I’m free in a way that I simply don’t experience at any other time.

It has something to do with being ‘in between’ places. I’m changing locations. I’m changing environments, surroundings and often my focus. It’s a transition process.

All transitions involve this place ‘in between.’ When a ship sails across the ocean, it leaves one shore and it is quite some time before land is within view once again. When we leave a relationship, it may be that we experience a time of being alone before we enter into a new relationship. The same is true for leaving jobs, or making any other major life transition.

Sometimes that place ‘in between’ can be uncomfortable. The ‘not knowing’ what is coming next, or IF something is coming can be stressful. The time in between is a valuable and worthwhile part of the process. It requires courage and patience. It requires faith and a willingness to ‘not know.’

One thing that makes my airplane trips so enjoyable is that I give myself the space to just ‘be’ there. I don’t allow myself to worry about (or miss) what I’m leaving behind. Nor do I allow myself to get too focused on where I’m heading. I just hang out in the transition. It’s like being in limbo or suspended animation. Time is passing, but I’m not in my normal ‘mode of operation.’ It’s like taking a break from the old routine and preparing for something new.

I think this is great way to approach transitions of any sort. During the ‘in between’ phase, we need to be patient and compassionate with ourselves. It is important to give ourselves the time and space we need to let go of what was… and make space for what is yet to be. Sometimes we can rest in this space. Other times it requires a lot from us to simply be there.

Learning to embrace the ‘no man’s land’ of transition is one of life’s greatest challenges… and greatest opportunities. It is a time of great possibility and power – if we can greet it with consciousness and acceptance.

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