We Live in Liminal Times

Recently, I heard a journalist exclaim that we live in liminal times. Huh? What’s a liminal time?

The online Dictionary defines liminal as relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process. It comes from the Latin word, linen, which means threshold where something is left behind but the cross over to something new is not yet clear.

When thinking of the pandemic it’s obvious that we are betwixt and between.  The old way of life in BC (Before Covid) times is gone. 

Longing to get back to normal is impossible as it means going backward in time which is impossible. We are in an in-between state. It’s the beginning of a new threshold. What’s ahead is undefined.

Just like taking a walk from one known spot to another, we can’t be sure what’s ahead until we proceed and reach a new destination.

my GB walking path
We live in Luminal Times — betwixt one destination and on to another as shown on the journey along my favourite walking path at the cottage

Things are up for grabs after the pandemic.  We are in a strange reality.

Consider changes that will happen in the world of work now that working online rather than in an office is an established reality.  Thoughts about race are altered after the death of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter.  Most people accept that climate change can no longer be ignored.  Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are changing the world of finance. Retail is different as most people shop online. Changes in technology including artificial intelligence, robotics, and cybersecurity are difficult for ordinary folk to track.

Liminal Time and Transformation

The liminal time after the pandemic brings power to determine how we want to live in the AC (After Covid) world.  We can transform ourselves and change habits that no longer work for us. When habits and behaviours are disrupted, change is inevitable. Letting go of old identities and beliefs gives room to embrace a new way of being. 

It’s a bit of a crazy time as facing this AC transformation brings a level of inner fear. How do we emerge from the protected personal space we have drawn around ourselves? How do we use the power of liminal transformation to change our lives for the better? How will we react to cultural, societal, and political changes?

Liminal Time as a Threshold

Liminal time can be considered a threshold to make life transitions. Most readers, like me,  have used the time of isolating at home to consider proactive life changes. We are at a threshold with a unique opportunity to re-shape and re-prioritize life goals and intentions congruent with deeply held values.

The struggles of isolation forced us to learn how to slow down.  We have realized the importance of close relationships with family and friends.  We liked having more time for hobbies. 

In our personal lives, we are aware that things are slowly opening. What joy it will be to hug our friends again! Consider the freedom to wander about, stop at a coffee shop, eat at a favourite restaurant!

Liminal Time for Change and for Continuity

In terms of change, liminal time gives new perspectives.  Every day, week, and month is precious.  Since I’ve lost more than a year of retirement, I try to find the deeper meaning in things around me.  I hold my husband’s hand just because I can. Rather than multi-tasking, I take my time and focus. I try not to rush through each day.

It strikes me that the pathway forward is just to ‘float’ and accept whatever happens. There’s no date on the calendar for the end of liminal time.  Since I’m not a politician, I don’t have to think about a schedule for opening up. Yet, I’m confident that I’ll know when liminal time ends and something new takes its place.

Continuity will come from resuming weekly dates with my two grandchildren.  Children grow so fast and move through developmental stages that can’t be recouped. 

I’ll also start having weekly family dinners again just as soon as the current stay-at-home order in Ontario is lifted. My granddaughter keeps reminding me that she can’t wait to sit at my big dining room table and drink her milk or juice from a real wine glass!  Because children remember the oddest things, I want my grandchildren to have a variety of experiences with me to fill memory banks for a lifetime.

Chaos and Opportunity

We know that change brings both chaos and opportunity. The pandemic brought chaos, loss and disorientation. I’m confident that the insights gained during these long months will also bring opportunities including new perspectives on the gift of time.

Moving thoughtfully through the transitions during this period of luminal time offers the opportunity for growth.  We can disengage from what was normal, move through this betwixt and between time, and emerge in a different place. Let’s embrace the transformational capacity of this luminal time to find new ways for living fully and intentionally.



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