When I was a child, we traveled a lot. My favorite part of traveling was getting onto the airplane. Keeping my balance in mid-air is something my childhood environment nurtured in me. I loved that transition, not knowing what was to come.
That liminal space, between earth and sky, is where I felt most at home, strangely enough.
Neither here nor there, in that in-between, is where I thrived as a child. This may have been related to the challenges I felt on the ground and intuitive knowledge, that no matter what was to come, it would change everything. Probably for the better, so I felt.
Whatever the reason, my love for that space between earth and sky lasted for many more years. It ultimately turned into a profession, I became a swinging trapeze artist and practiced that life-altering profession for 25 years.
Climbing up to the trapeze day in and day out is similar to mounting an airplane, in the sense that you take a step into that space between earth and sky again, not knowing how it will feel on a particular day. Your actual strength, and the level of fear you have to contain. It was by getting up there and starting to swing that the elements composing the actual experience revealed themselves.
So many factors are at play, the humidity in the air, the space you practice in, the actual height of the trapeze bar, and the measures of security. Your physical fitness that day, how well you slept the night before, how the previous practice session went, what you ate and when and so much more.
I could have been terrified of what I will find when I get up there, but there’s something about doing something as a routine, day in and day out, that makes you complacent in a sense. That’s probably not the right word, but you have more compassion for yourself on a given day, when you practice daily and for the long term.
It’s a question of discipline, you know you will be there day after day, so you know one session does not determine the result of your work. It is the accumulation of daily practice that brings the results you ultimately perform in front of your audience.
There’s freedom in that. Knowing that what you are doing is part of a longer process, the results of which accumulate from day to day. You can enjoy little things on the way. Things only you know and feel, about the way your body felt in the back- balance, or the level of your confidence while executing a particularly challenging figure.
Flirting with the unknown and meeting it in mid-air, having to adjust, body and mind at the fraction of a second in that encounter was, you guessed it, my favorite part. It gave me the freedom to be completely and utterly myself, however I was at that fraction of a second. No premeditation, no afterthought, no time for that.
Your daily life is like this too, it’s how we all live, intuitively, day in and day out, somehow knowing it’s for the long term. Cultivating compassion for ourselves is not a bad idea.
In the liminal space, you can only imagine what it would be like when you get to where you want to go.
Our lives are full of transitions like this. It is not uncommon these days, to change jobs, partners, and sometimes entire careers in the space of a couple of years. Some people find it challenging. It seems difficult to leave what you’re used to. The uncertainty of a new place, position, job, or relationship, seems quite daunting.
The unknown has always presented us humans with a challenge because we don’t know how to prepare ourselves and for what. The educational system, the tests, and the evaluations we have to face growing up, make us think we need to prepare and know things in advance.
It may be my experience in mid-air for so many years, but I think it could be good if we learned to trust our intuition more. Assess new situations as they come along and deal with them, trusting our experience and ourselves. Knowing it’s a longer game that builds up with time and that the liminal space is an integral part of it.
Life is not a test. It’s an ongoing, long-term process of learning and growing from our experiences, mostly our failures. Michael Jordan said: “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.” In this sense, we should probably not be that afraid to fail.
In any case, I recommend using life transitions to practice balance in mid-air, find freedom in not knowing, and cultivate hope for a better possible future