The Space Between

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“Honor the space between no longer and not yet.”  Nancy Levin

Last Saturday, as our family was coming home from vacation, I said to my daughter,

I love being in transit, whether on an airplane or on a road trip.” There’s this sense of suspended time; it feels luxurious.

It gives me time to reflect, to read things I don’t typically read, listen to something that I don’t normally listen to – and the routine – well, there isn’t one. I find all those things restful and refreshing.

This time, I read a wonderful book called The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill. It’s a Newbery Award-winning children’s book; I love children’s and young adult literature. 

At this point, my daughter said, ‘Oh, you like liminal spaces.”

Liminal spaces are defined as places of transition, places we pass through or pause in briefly. We don’t stay there; we don’t even plan to do so and don’t necessarily want to. They can be actual architectural places of passage—hallways, elevators—or places in time, like the plane ride home. 

I think part of the attraction of liminal spaces for me is that, usually, even when I’m not doing something, I’m doing something. I don’t spend a lot of time in the space between.

Coming home from vacation is a liminal space; it’s a vacation no longer and not yet back to work.

I find it interesting that sometimes we relish those liminal spaces, like when we are physically traveling, but when it comes from moving from who we were to who we will be, we often don’t.

Like when we are jumping from one S Curve to the next –– that is also a liminal space that Herminia Ibarra wrote about:

“Taking advantage of liminal interludes allows us to experiment — to do new and different things with new and different people. In turn, that affords us rare opportunities to learn about ourselves.”

Sometimes it can be challenging to be in the liminal spaces between who we no longer are and who we are not yet, but this muscle is more developed for most of us than we think it is. At the very least, we have an opportunity to practice, perhaps more frequently than we realize. Even waiting in a line can be a liminal space if we leave enough time not to be hurried and worried that we will not get to our next destination on time.

Our podcast guest last week (when we had no newsletter to advertise her) was Emma Seppälä, a researcher on happiness who also teaches business leaders at Yale. She reminds us that happiness is contagious. And this week features Ken Blanchard, one of the most revered leadership thinkers. You may remember him from The One Minute Manager. He says something in the podcast that I love: Life is a special occasion. That includes the liminal spaces. Be sure to catch both episodes!

As always, so happy you are here!

My best,
Whitney

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