In Joseph Campbell's The Man with a Thousand Faces, the liminal space takes place at the threshold between the Known World and the Unknown World. The hero either voluntarily steps over the threshold, willingly taking on the challenge, or else finds himself or herself pushed or pulled over the threshold into a different environment.
"At some point, she finds herself at a point of no return. She has accepted the reality that the world is not what it appears to be. She comes to her call to action and reckoning. The veil is lifted off the innocence and there’s no more fooling around. She has suspected this for a while now, yet the fear of stepping into this new reality is painfully hard to imagine. It’s time to put on her big girl panties even though they are uncomfortable. Her new britches are too big for her, and yet, she has no choice but to somehow grow into them. The threshold is now behind her and the deal is done."
The Liminal Odyssey
Often and most obviously, that calling is a dilemma that leaves no room for question that it's time to take a bold next step (sometimes kicking and screaming.) Yet, that line in the sand is either accepted with the illusion that it's our ally in our story offering us another way, or a malfunction of a plan we had for ourselves. We may not see it as an opportunity to rethink our agency in the situation, only that our ideals are foiled and that means something went wrong. Victimization, self-doubt, and frustration are all at play to keep us, prisoners, in patterns whose time has come and we are clearly being called over the threshold towards a new way of seeing this gift, once viewed as our obstacle. The choice is clearly ours in either case.
"What you resist, persists."
Yet, both scenarios accept that we are heading into the unknown place that is calling us. The difference lies in if we are willing to release preconceived ideas, ego, assumptions and control we think we have.
And, here's the fun part; get crystal clear on what we really want. Let your vision blow in your sails, rather than a dilemma pull you kicking and screaming.
Are we taking advantage of the space in between those thresholds to chart our next path toward our dream's harbor? This requires nothing more than maximizing our opportunity to check our integrity at the door and pay attention to what our body, our most reliable GPS system, is telling us. Here we can slow down to the speed of reflection. Otherwise, we willingly agree to run on auto-pilot, a construct that is nothing more than a habit to reconsider.
Neuroscience and prosocial psychology agree that the same thought running through your mind over and over again creates neuropathways, like superhighways, making a thought your subconscious picks up commands your next step. The more the thought travels down that road, it becomes a habit and the subconscious takes it from there. The good news is, we can repave that highway with thoughts that serve us well. The trick is recognizing when we are at that moment of choice. That's what I call the sweet spot.
Our generation does not do pain or death very well. Pain is a gift. It is our most reliable sign that what was working needs attention and alteration, Death brings a realization that the course of things has come to an end, yet the earliest of man knew that burying our dead meant hope for new life, just as seeds have proven true. The story of Jesus and many of our heroes n mythology willingly died so the promise of new life would emerge from their "seed."
We are in the Sweet Spot of history. We must be. Clearly, we are at if not creeping over the line at the precipice of climate crisis, fascism, education degradation, and weaponization of kindergartners and schools that are burning books and social emotional learning curriculum, global wealth, food deserts, corporate monopolization, and more.
Who wants to stay here? What old patterns are keeping us here and what is our role in creating new social and cultural neuropathways?
It must begin with us individually.
Considering the odds of probability that we were born at this time, and the simple fact that you are reading this article, means we are this time's midwife. Regardless, if you accept your mission and go "willingly" or resist it, we are here and have choice. The journey is now an Odyssey and I am a willing co-captain with all of you.
Permission to come aboard, buckle up, and get ready for take-off!