Airports, stairwells, escalators, elevators, doorways – the places that are meant for coming or going, not being. Liminal space is also a frame of mind in which we are in a period of transitioning. It is that time when our entire life has been turned upside down by some integral loss that ends up upsetting our perspective on how the world operates. The loss of a loved one, a job, or a marriage can all be causes of placing ourselves into liminal space. At times too, we create it all on our own by questioning our place within the context of our lives – am I meant for something greater/different? It is the period in which we all will reside within many times throughout our lives.
That liminal space can last for extremely long periods when we question our own place within the world and seem to be transitioning into someone we are not familiar with. It is customary to be afraid to change, as it is unfamiliar. It is during this time when our sense of self comes in to question, when the things we may do are out of character and clouded in darkness. We have the extreme inclination to fight change with every breath in our bodies instead of flowing with the bumps and curves of life. Sometimes it’s even the smallest of adjustments we will resist, just because we have become familiar with the stasis of our existence in the space we have created.
When we resist change, we are NPC’s, or Non-Playing Characters. They are the characters that are in the background, helping the scene move along by just being present. They are not the motivators, the challengers, the doers, nor may they ever be the inspirations. They are merely an extra in the movie that we call life. Imagine that the world that we believe ourselves to be a part of as not really existing, but merely in our minds only. Technically, as Descartes resolved, the mind is the only thing we can be assured to be, to have, to make us alive. If our mind is the only irrefutable definitive than it stands to reason that the world in which we find ourselves in, are merely constructs of our imaginations. So, when we find ourselves at a standstill and choosing to not make that leap into the unknown, no matter how small, we are choosing to not play the game but simply be NPC’s in other people’s dramas and adventures.
When we aren’t living the life we imagined or outside forces are causing our life to turn upside down, our emotions can run the gamut from rage to depression. We resist change and yet lament the monotony of our dreary lives. Without change, we aren’t able to grow mentally, emotionally, or spiritually and only end up creating a barrier of fear from the unknown, so when forced change occurs our emotional, mental, and spiritual fall can be traumatic and cause a grand scale upheaval.
Fear can be your biggest enemy or your greatest joy. Anyone can tell you, when you confront a fear, your confidence and joy heightened. Periodically, try to shake things up by confronting a fear or checking an item off of your bucket list that is vastly different from anything you’ve ever done before. In 2012, I hiked, by myself, 340 miles of the Appalachian Trail. In 2014, for my birthday, I learned to ice skate, snowboard, and rock-climb. The most joyful moments in my life either had to do with relationships or trying something vastly new and perhaps scary. By willingly shaking up our own lives, it helps prepare us for the disappointments and losses we will inevitably experience, but also to help us grow and experience, as well as prepare us for anything new that we may end up experiencing.
Everyone knows how to make a bucket list, right? But, bucket lists have a tendency to be just like New Years’ Resolutions list – unattainable for most of us. We set these lofty goals for ourselves but they’re usually so outside of our comfort zone that we react by avoiding. So, we’re going to do this a little differently.
On two different sheets of paper, place the following titles (or similar) on top:
The Easy to Accomplish is the list that will be comprised of things that are more inside your comfort zone. This might include reading a certain book, learn to play an instrument, speak a different language, or pay a strangers dinner bill for them.
The Outside My Comfort Zone list is way more involved. These are the items that our soul wants desperately to do but there’s parts of the doing that terrifies us. As I mentioned earlier, I went hiking on the Appalachian Trail. This is something I had been fixated on doing for years but I could never get anyone to say “yes” to doing it with me. If circumstances hadn’t made me bullheaded about going, I may never have done it, and yet it is one of the best things that I have ever experienced for myself. It’s absolutely terrifying to do the scary things, especially by ourselves. So, these are the ones that need to be broken down into smaller attainable goals in able to make them doable. With each of these items, break them down into steps: What’s the easiest thing you can do to accomplish this goal? Make separate lists for each item, into smaller steps, that you can work towards building up that confidence to actually doing it. For example, let’s say that one day, you want to go parachuting. Definitely terrifying, and one that most of us will never accomplish. But, nowadays, there’s what’s called Tandem Skydiving which means, someone will be jumping with you – literally, strapped onto you. Secondly, there are now indoor skydiving companies that you can go to in able to practice what it will feel like. Perhaps, you can pull up videos of skydivers and even instructional videos. When we focus on the end goal of the Outside My Comfort Zone goals, we’ll never achieve them. When we break them down into doable steps, they become easily more attainable.
The last list, What I Will Accomplish This Year, will be a mixture of the first two lists. What is it you feel you can accomplish this year? In your first year of doing a bucket list, be sure to place at least one of the terrifying, heart-pounding, outside-your-comfort-zone goals onto the list because, you’re awesome. You got this.