Living in the liminal space
The last year has been full of uncertainty and change in my personal universe. I am not being cagey or coy, my intention is not to hide things. I am not asking you to ask about me. I am not being mysterious for attention. And yet. And yet I feel unable to be fully open about some things. In this space, this leaves me feeling adrift, un-moored, liminal. I would say that I am going through some sort of transition. I have passed the mid-mark of my 50’s, and these are the days/years when one looks more closely at assumptions, patterns, choices, made and taken earlier. A time of unraveling as Brene Brown puts it. I am unraveling. As a knitter, I will add that unraveling has a different meaning than in the colloquial sense. I see it as a frogging and re-knitting opportunity rather than a falling apart….
For many many years -since I was an adolescent and looking for guidelines, examples, role models- I have searched for the path forward. I am most certainly not unique in this way, but it has felt like my MO. Many of us are curious and look for inspiration in the paths others have taken. Seek out others who appear to have it figured out and hope some of their wisdom rubs off. Much time has been spent looking for an Aha! moment. Can I say I have found that wisdom…? Uh, well, not really. And perhaps that is why I am here at this juncture. Not having secured any deep clarity, I feel unwilling to keep looking for answers outwards. I am trying the tack of just sitting with what is for a change. For now it feels right.
Each time I am in dance class I feel like the teenager and young adult I was, immersed in familiar landmarks, feeling familiar aches and pains, feeling the familiar joy of expressing myself in a wholly organic manner, speaking with my soul through my body. It’s all so damn familiar. And then class ends and I find myself dropped back into my middle-aged body with it’s resentful accretion of time. Like when the angel, played by Nick Cage, is dropped into the corporeal world in City of Angels, the poor American re-make of Wings of Desire, the classic Wim Wenders film. It’s a tactile and painful re-entry. Thud. Oh yeah, here I am, not 20, not lithe and strong, with less time ahead of me than behind me. Who knows where this dancing thing is going now. Not that it needs to go anywhere, but when last I was practicing, it had a direction, a goal, to find work, to be cast, to be part of a company. That drive was a big part of why I dropped out. I didn’t have the faith in my ability to keep pushing through. The auditions wore me down, broke my somewhat tenuous young adult spirit. Distracted me from what I really loved about the practice-the movement- by occupying me with the banal- a job.
Wow, didn’t see that thread coming. The dancing is a part of my liminality. Which universe am I in? How old am I anyway? Honestly it doesn’t really matter. We all know that life is not black and white. I know this. I have lived this for decades. However, in the past I felt secure that the rest of the universe was moving in a forward trajectory, towards a good end. I didn’t concern myself much with it’s actions, I was too busy, as the young are, with my own issues. My search moved through what I assumed (!) was a stable field. Now with decades of life experience under my belt, I look around and see that the universe is most definitely not stable. Again, this is not a unique or innovative insight. Philosophers and self-help authors have been discussing this construct for ages. But because our lives run at SUCH a fast pace right now, because we are bombarded with information by the second, it all feels so much more profound, and unbalanced. Rudderless, careening, alarmingly out of control. To think that we are in the third year of this administration when many of us thought this reality impossible, is to recognize how little control is being exerted in the greater universe. I do not want to go all politics here, most of you know where I stand. I use this reference more to help myself understand, to explain myself a bit more, regarding this feeling of liminality. How could I be sure of much when all around me is so much in flux?
A great seat of this feeling for me is found in social media, and Instagram in particular. This is where I can tie this post to my platform, my ‘brand’ (she says wincing), my Making persona. My time on Instagram has been all about my Making, and by extension, about A Gathering of Stitches. I stepped back from Instagram in November. I have still been there, but not as much, not as often, and with way fewer posts. It has been a micro-experiment to watch how the algorithms have shifted what I see, and what the response is to my posts, by my time recorded on Instagram. If you aren’t there all the time, mindlessly scrolling, liking, and commenting, you become marginalized, you fall behind the pack. You only see posts that correlate with what you last interacted with. So many people I know I follow, whose names I don’t really know (sad, but true) who I haven’t seen, and don’t know how to find, they have disappeared from my feed. The herd analogy is good. If you don’t keep up, if you’re not in the pack, then you’re left behind. As Ken Kesey said, ‘you’re either on the bus or off the bus’. I’m feeling that I wandered off the bus to take a leak and the bus took off without me. The metaphor is a bit skewed, because I could get back on the bus. I could spend more time on Instagram, I could comment and like and post and I’m sure the algorithms would reset. Yet something is holding me back. My Instagram feed is a snapshot of my life, it is very personal, I barely separate myself from A Gathering of Stitches, it is me. While we could talk for hours about whether that is healthy or not, it is true. I am not interested in presenting some artificial face on Instagram. And I know that it is a large part of why people follow me. They have told me so. When they tell me so I feel good about what I share, so I continue to share. Until I paused last Fall. I felt that there were things I didn’t want to share, things that were large in my life, and potentially visible, and difficult to disguise. So I just paused. It felt right. It even felt good. I gave myself time and space to settle into an undocumented life. I will confess to writing posts in my head, but they didn’t make it onto the platform. And because I wasn’t there, I had no idea if anyone even noticed that I wasn’t, so it all just slipped away. Each time I thought, hmmm, maybe I should post something, I would get distracted and the moment would pass. I got out of the habit.
Life got more complicated. Holidays came and went. And then life settled into a new routine. January brought with it a deadline that required attention. Oh yeah, I run a craft business that relies heavily on Social Media for connection with my people. I have been directing folks to my email newsletter for the latest information on my retreats for a while now. I was grateful to find that many had taken that advice during these past few months. The announcement of the retreats, and subsequent opening of registration, were both met with eager reception via email. Again, Slow Stitching sold out in record time. (Insert image of my head spinning…) Slow Fashion is moving at it’s own pace, which is more tentative, the subject matter still being new to so many. But it is finding it’s voice, and it’s people. So. Can I continue to run a business based on interactions and connections to people without a hearty presence on Social Media? Can I do it through this blog and the newsletter? While I can personally live in this liminal space. While I am able to trust in myself that my unraveling will result in something, or someone, that I understand and can embrace. Can my business live there? If I am my business, and I am in transition, does that mean my business is is as well…? My gut reaction to this is no, my business feels the most grounded and real of all my swirling parts. Being at QuiltCon last month showed me how true that is. The connections I have made are real, the people who have found me and found the retreats are real and true. I hear it in their voices, I see it in their eyes, I feel it in their hugs. What we have collectively made from these retreats is good and true. It’s just me that’s a bit a mess over here in the corner. (To be clear I am healthy, not experiencing any issues in that area. Please do not worry about that.) But does that hold water on Instagram with it’s ridiculous algorithms? I choose to believe that I will not live in this liminal space forever. There are actions being set in motion that will land and settle in the near future. Those actions will give me more solid ground to stand on. I am choosing to trust myself and where I appear to be going. I am sitting in my liminality (is that a word), I am teaching myself to be comfortable with this unraveling. But where does that leave AGOS? Where do I find the things to share of myself, to be public with, in enough depth to be relevant and visible and present? That is my question. I hope that some will bear with me while I wrestle with these ideas. I know I will lose followers*. It’s just the way the algorithm works. But in the long run, will it matter? I guess only time will tell. Instagram is vibrating with a vital and contentious conversation about diversity and inclusion. That somehow feels more important than whether people are following my Maker experience. I am not going away. I am not stepping further back. I am still here. I am just quieter…
And A Gathering of Stitches is very much alive, vibrant, engaged and engaging, and I look forward with great enthusiasm to seeing all who have already registered this coming Summer. If you are reading this and don’t know what I am referring to please look at my Maine Stitching Retreats page. If you are reading this and have been on the fence about coming to Slow Fashion, jump down, and jump in. It’s going to be a magical week. This I know….
* Does anyone else notice how much movement there is when you are at a large number bump with followers? You can be at 2199 for weeks, jump up to 2223 for a moment and then drop back down to 2189 all in the span of a post. Anyone else think this is Instagram keep us engaged by shifting those numbers around a lot so we watch them assiduously for a time…? Or is that just my suspicious mind?