I’ve learned that waiting is the most difficult bit, and I want to get used to the feeling, knowing that you’re with me, even when you’re not by my side. ― Paulo Coelho
Sixteen days are all that stand between me and Chungnam, South Korea. Less than a fortnight, more than a breath. Like many of my generation, of multiple generations, I find waiting hard. My free moments are filled with a tremble, a jumpiness. When I'm not engaged with a conversation or an odd job, it's easy for my brain to go into overdrive. This is not the first time I've been in a kind of "liminal space", the space between one thing and another. No matter what I tell myself, waiting is hard, especially when it is for something big. More than hard, waiting can feel lonely, even isolating.
lim·i·nal / limənl / adjective
1. relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
2.occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.
Yesterday felt like a hard day. Wrapped up in my own isolation, thoughts, and feelings, I was moody and temperamental. I told a friend, "I just want someone to pick up on what I'm feeling and step into the experience without my having to ask." No one is moving with me to Korea. No one has to apply for a visa, buy a plane ticket, pack their life into two 50-pound bags plus a couple of carry-ons. Still, I also "know" I'm not alone in this journey. I keep reminding myself I am neither the first nor the last to make this kind of a journey. I might feel alone, but that is far from true.
In the opening scene to one of my favorite movies, Angels in America, Meryl Streep playing a Jewish rabbi is officiating a funeral and talks about the journeys of the older generations, immigrating from all over Europe to the Americas by boat, carrying with them one of two suitcases, maybe a jar of dirt from the old country. Some of them brought families, but some came alone. I'll never know what their journeys felt like for them. I only know my own experience. Knowing there is this unseen cloud of witness who know what it's like to uproot their lives from one field to another brings a kind of solace.
...right now, my experience feels really, really big...
The weather has started shifting here in Chicago, my own personal waiting room. I've swapped shorts for jeans, sandals for shoes, t-shirts for a hoody or a sweater. The changes in climate seems to be mirroring the changes in me. At the same time, these seasonal transitions are nothing new. By and large, every year, there is a point in the life of the city when the heat of the sun and the green of the trees gives way to cool breezes and leaves with hues of fire and warmth. Maybe that's one of the reasons I love autumn. I feel the heat of summer in the warmth on my skin, but in the fall, I see it in the crimsons and ochres, the marigolds and magentas. Autumn reminds me of the cycles of change that take place inside me.
I came across this passage from Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, and it feels far too pertinent not to share:
Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away... and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast.... be happy about your growth, in which of course you can't take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don't torment them with your doubts and don't frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn't be able to comprehend.
Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn't necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust.... and don't expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.
I've had a number of changes in my life, a number of moves, deaths and losses, personal growths and transformations — so many that I'm used to my friends and family remarking on them. Apparently the one constant in my life truly is change. I had coffee with a close friend yesterday, and I shared my frustrations at being the one in many of my friendships to initiate conversation or quality time. "You've had this kind of transient life for the last, what, several years. And I know I feel less inclined to reach out to my friends with lives like yours, worried that I'll catch them at a bad time when they feel too stretched thin to human," he said to me. The truth is we are all transients, ever-changing regardless of geography.
We are not trapped or locked up in these bones. No, no. We are free to change. And love changes us. And if we can love one another, we can break open the sky. ― Walter Mosley
I'm simply left wondering how we can deeply love and support each other in our transience. How can I show myself grace in my liminal spaces while also showing a similar grace to those who witness my changes, transformations, changes and shifts and perhaps feel overwhelmed even by the act of being a witness. I know I'm in awe when someone I love is in the throes of change, so why would I not expect the same from my loved ones. So as I wait in this space, I covet your grace for my anxiety and nervousness. I also covet your shared excitement as I jump off this cliff. I am my best self when seen through the eyes of those around me and not only through my emotional blinders. Here in the waiting room, I see you and you see me. For this, I give thanks.
photo credit: Lenny K (via Flickr)