The birds they sang
At the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what has passed away
Or what is yet to be

~Leonard Cohen, Anthem

I’ve been hav­ing a lot of lucid dreams late­ly. In most of them, I am wan­der­ing about some lim­i­nal space, those phys­i­cal spaces that are tran­si­to­ry in nature. In one dream, I am dri­ving around a park­ing lot look­ing for a space. In anoth­er, I keep straight­en­ing the mag­a­zines in some flu­o­res­cent-lit wait­ing room. In yet anoth­er, I am run­ning through an air­port, end­less­ly late for a flight, pro­ceed­ing all night from one long mov­ing walk­way to anoth­er. I dream I’m on a stair­way. An ele­va­tor. A nev­er-end­ing hall­way with hor­ri­ble shag car­pet­ing. In each, time feels wonky, the space unset­tling, my thoughts cracked.

Erin Skinner Smith

My dreams are just a reflec­tion of the emo­tion­al – and hor­mon­al – strug­gles that I am expe­ri­enc­ing in my wak­ing life, mere brain­stem acti­va­tion as a means of mak­ing sense of my exis­tence. I’m in a sea­son between what was and what’s next, on the thresh­old of a new know­ing. Everything feels a lit­tle wob­bly these days. My mind. My body. I’m exist­ing in this odd state of before and after, some­where between pub­lic and pri­vate, between con­fu­sion and clar­i­ty, promise and devastation. 

The glob­al com­mu­ni­ty seems to be in an in-between, my fam­i­ly includ­ed. David is find­ing his foot­ing in a new career. Izzie is mov­ing towards adult­hood, toward what­ev­er comes next for her, inch­ing me ever clos­er to an emp­ty nest. I am nav­i­gat­ing the phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal rite of pas­sage (or pos­si­bly riot of pas­sage) known as menopause. Adapting my busi­ness toward a post-pan­dem­ic, eco­nom­ic reces­sion sort of land­scape. Our beloved Cat Stevens just died. These evo­lu­tions – rev­o­lu­tions? – are affect­ing my way of see­ing and my way of being, leav­ing me wob­bly. Every time I feel like I’m gain­ing my emo­tion­al foot­ing, I open the news­pa­per and some head­line about Roe v. Wade or yet anoth­er mass shoot­ing sends me reel­ing again.

I’ve decid­ed to embrace the not quite, lean into the not know­ing to wit­ness the unfold­ing of the process. It’s neu­ro­log­i­cal­ly nec­es­sary to take time to incu­bate the not quite, inte­grate shifts in mind­set. Changes between stages don’t hap­pen overnight. If we resist the lim­i­nal­i­ty, it might not hap­pen at all. 

I’ve decid­ed to take a writ­ing sab­bat­i­cal this sum­mer, shift from out­put to allow more input. I have cho­sen eight of my favorite pieces from the last five years of week­ly writ­ing (more than 250 pieces in all) to post in June and July and then I plan to reassess.

Liminal spaces are places where trans­for­ma­tion hap­pens, where the big­ger world can be revealed. But they require still­ness, patience, and qui­et. I’m feel­ing ever drawn away from the bad news flash­light of my phone, the anger and judg­ment of social media. I’m not sure what I’m being drawn towards yet, but that’s the jour­ney I want to witness. 

As I was think­ing about those cracked-up dreams, I typed the word lim­i­nal into my ento­mol­o­gy app. But in a cos­mic bread­crumb on my path to what’s next, it auto­cor­rect­ed to lumi­nal, or per­tain­ing to the nature of light. It was val­i­da­tion, a light bulb ah-ha. 

I might be feel­ing a lit­tle cracked right now, but as Leonard Cohen reminds us, “There is a crack in every­thing. That’s how the light gets in.”

  • Erin Skinner Smith

    Erin Skinner Smith wants every­one to slow down, eat real food, move their bod­ies, go out­side, and hit the pil­low a lit­tle ear­li­er for a more pur­pose­ful exis­tence. She is a pub­lished writer, yoga teacher, and mind­ful­ness coach. When she’s not stand­ing on her head or typ­ing on her trusty lap­top, you’ll find her read­ing, play­ing gui­tar, enjoy­ing a glass of bour­bon, or snug­gling on the couch with her peo­ple and pets. Send her a dig­i­tal high five at erintheomplace.net.