On the road to reach a goal, like looking toward the stars, there is a vast space of in between. The road ahead stretches and turns and excitement builds as we see the last road sign, twenty miles to ______, almost there!!
Our culture is goal oriented; most of us live for the future, weekend, vacation, or retirement. We miss the moment and leap to the next place of happiness so much so it feels we barely find peace and enjoy it, even when it comes. It’s no surprise that Saturday is a more special day than Sunday as the anticipation of Monday withers away the joy of presence. Is there anything that different about Friday night than Sunday? In our elusion, indeed there is.
I am in the in between place right now. The future is unknown to me. I am asked what I do and what my goals are regularly. One friend asked, “what does it feel like being unemployed, I’m kind of jealous!?” All the questions lead to some soul searching and an exciting time of creating a new identity. I lost my job of 15 years, so what comes next.
I started to imagine myself suspended on a staircase, between steps. I think everyone has felt that feeling like crawling backward on a ladder when your foot is seeking the next rung, heart races a little when it’s not where you expected it to be, uneasy, what if you miss it altogether? Recently, my Aunt Penny took a twenty step fall down the stairs. I imagine in those few moments, all the scary thoughts racing through her mind. Even as she uses a walker to regain her strength to walk again, she is suspended in an in between place.
My dear mentor, Matthew Sanford wrote this piece. “The places you don’t feel in you are graceful, they’re not lost, and they’re not absent. They’re part of your strength of your fiber. In a piece of wood, it’s the empty space and spaces in between that make it strong. The world gets lighter when you include all of yourself.” He should know, he lives in a wheelchair, and it’s taken years in his journey to find those spaces in between and connect to them.
Yesterday, I taught two yoga classes at the jail, one week before Christmas. Every inmate is suspended in an in between place. One was anxious to get on to prison, while others were seeing this as the Christmas that they were separated from family. Talk about longing for the next place! In the next place for each of them is an in between, often they leave jail without a home or a job to go to. They may find that no one picks up the phone. And while I know what the reader is thinking, that they may have earned this fate. Maybe that’s true, I do not know their stories, but they are all human beings. That isn’t the point anyway, the point is that they are suspended in the in between having lost some sense of identity. That identity might be an illusion anyway, of how culture defines us, and we define ourselves. The past may contribute to who we are, but just like living for the future it is not the reality of this moment. There is choice every step of the way.
What depth of wisdom is there to gain in this space in between? I am finding bucketfuls. We are in the depth of winter, soon approaching the darkest day of the year. The holiday season approaches, with anticipation of a new year. There is wisdom to be gained in these dark and inward hours, if we dare step away from the rat race of shopping and parties and explore the shadows in between.
I encourage you to dare venture there and see what unfolds. What is life if we cannot be present in the spaces in between?