Sometimes, I annoy myself.
Tonight, for example. It’s cold outside, and my calves still hurt from a dance class I took on Monday, and I don’t want to go to another. But guess what I’m going to do? Go to a dance class, because it’s cold, and my calves hurt, and the class is going to be hard. I’m going because it would be easy to stay home and stream something on the computer, lying in my warm bed. But that’s not what I do, is it? No, I do the hard thing, because I’m me, and that’s what I always do. Annoying.
But I feel as though I have to do something, or anything, or perhaps everything, because at the moment I’m in a liminal state and it’s driving me mildly crazy. You know what a liminal state is, right? Arnold Van Gennep wrote about them in The Rites of Passage. According to Van Gennep, all rituals have three states: the pre-liminal, the liminal, and the post-liminal. The pre- and post-liminal are both stable social states. The liminal state is the state in between, the threshold over which you need to step to assume a new position. Except sometimes you get stuck in the threshold. Or sometimes the threshold just takes a lot longer to get through than you thought it would.
Well, I’m in that liminal state, between things: and I have no idea where I’m going. In a sense, I’m waiting for the universe to tell me, because I simply don’t know myself. The liminal state is the state of transformations, the state in which you change. In a ritual, it’s the state in which a young man goes out and becomes an animal for a period of time, living in the wilderness. It’s the state in which a young woman is socially out, but not yet engaged. It’s carnival. In life, it can often be a period of indecision, a period during which you feel as though there’s no ground under your feet. At the moment, I can’t feel the ground. I don’t know where I belong.
The problem with the liminal state is that it’s dangerous: Van Gennep tells us this. He says that the person on the threshold is at risk, particularly vulnerable. I can feel that — the vulnerability, the reaching out to something that might be more stable but not knowing where to find it. Liminal states last as long as appropriate: you don’t know when they’re going to end. They weaken you, and there are days on which I feel weaker than I would like, more tired.
I think that’s why I find comfort in things that are ordered. The ritual of teaching, the rigor of learning Hungarian (since I will probably go to Hungary next summer — unexpectedly, since I did not think I would be able to go), the language of ballet. When the teacher says tombé, pas de bourrée, glissade, pas de chat, I know the combination of steps to take. It’s nice knowing what steps to take, even if it’s only the next six.
My image for today is me after Monday’s ballet class:
I’ve had way too much uncertainty in my life to be comfortable with being liminal for long. I think I will end up with some sort of stability — I just don’t know when.