Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Limen

The delicious inbetween.
Many inbetween things are yummy, right? Like the icing or jam in between two layers of cake. What's inside the sandwich, rather than the boring old bread. The juicy bits of grass that grow up between paving stones.

Inbetween spaces are fun, and maybe a bit scary. Revolving doors have always given me the willies. Take that South African stalwart bit of architecture - the Stoep.
Magical compared with the inside front lounge or the street outside. People sit on their stoeps and watch the world go by. They comment, or are commented on, they drink beer and misbehave, just a little, because here they can be seen, so they are almost public, but have more courage because they are more home than public. Ne?

In between times are fascinating too. Crucibles of transformation. When we undergo rites of passage we are in a liminal zone. After the rupture, the separation from normal life, we are thrust into the inbetween place where we will be thrashed about, skinned, taught lessons, made to dance til we drop, pelted with confetti, circumcised, whatever...you get the gist - transformed. Until we are spat out on the other side, reborn, presented to society as new beings with new status.

Stories are no good without a liminal space, a transformative ordeal of some kind. A crossing of the threshold of ordinary life into the world of the adventure, where normal rules don't apply and fierce tests and ordeals will strip the hero to her core so that she may find out what lives there, blazing or glimmering underneath her defences. We know this. This is the stuff I teach. Joseph Campbell, the mythologist writes plenty about the stages of the Hero's Journey. Most Hollywood movies follow this monomyth structure.

Teaching and reading about it is one thing. Going on your own journey of transformation is quite another.

Birth is such a journey, naturally. For the one burrowing out of womb and into world as well as for the vessel that needs to cross the river and bring the cargo safely back to this (now other) side. Like all rites of passage, there will be mentors and guides, those that have made the journey before, and can show you where but, ultimately, can't come with you.

I'm not there yet. I'm in another kind of inbetween right now.
I've passed through the preparation phase. The period of debate and struggle, denial and refusal. I've had wonderful mentors. Tricksters that have unwittingly tried to waylay me with their gruesome tales. The villain - my iceberg shadow fears (and oh how they multiply). The trusty sidekick who appears at just the right moment. I've chased the dragon right up to his den. And now I'm waiting. Not planning. Not dreading. Just waiting.

I am ready but I'm not impatient. I'm alert but I'm not scared. There's something delicious about this moment. Like gooey jam spilling out the cake. I'm licking up shiny drops of anticipation. I'm letting go of the rehearsals and scripts in my head, even the positive hypnobirthing programming. Doing yoga, breathing, working (yes, still working, but gently). Not planning. Not any more.

It reminds me of that Buddhist story - the man who is chased by a tiger and stumbles off a sheer cliff, with the roaring sea beneath him. He catches himself on a ledge, grabs onto the root of a tree. Above him a snarling tiger. Below him the crashing sea and jagged rocks. On the ledge next to him, a strawberry grows. He picks it. Smells it. Puts it to his lips. How delicious it is!

I have also updated the mommy blog


Shiny said...

Beautiful. I love that xx

Angela said...

I commented on Mommy Blog.
I am so much thinking of you, Tam. Think how the little one will be eager to dive out now! Finally see the sun. And his MOMMY!

karen said...

Hi Tam, just read your last post and this one! Nice to see you back again, and it's great how we don't seem to forget each other in the blog world, no matter how quiet we might become! Love the strawberry story, and will have to go and read the Mommy Blog now!