by Dorry Bless
From the time Norman Vincent Peale’s bestselling book, The Power of Positive Thinking, was published in 1953, through the success of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, mounting attention has been paid to the notion that positive thoughts can be powerful magnets to attract health, wealth and lasting fulfillment. Still, American society as a whole seems addicted to the paradigm of achieving success and finding happiness—and getting there as quickly as possible. As a result, we sometimes attribute fault to or lose patience with those that are mired in life’s “in-between” times.
Instead of savoring the unknown when our life is changing, we choose to focus on what we hope is waiting on the other side, rushing through transitional periods because they are the times when we feel confused and uncertain. The in-between is the space where boundaries dissolve and we find ourselves figuratively poised between one steppingstone and the next.
Rites of Passage
From childhood, we have been conditioned to think that progress means getting where we’re going, and contemporary technology reinforces this attitude. As a result, we do our best to avoid discomfort, doubt and indecision. European Ethnologist Arnold van Gennep, best known for his studies on the rites of passage in different cultures, describes “liminal space” as the threshold at which a person is leaving one level of status and entering another.
Often, when people think of some of the in-between times in their life—such as contemplating a career change, realizing a relationship is ending or experiencing the heartbreak of sitting at a parent’s hospice bedside—they feel it is no longer possible to maintain their identity in the same familiar way. During uncomfortable periods shadowed by the unknown no one is there to say: “Stop and rest. Welcome this time. Pay attention. There are riches here to unearth. This in-between time is precious and beautiful, too.”
Unlike Johnny Mercer’s advice in his song lyric; “You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative and… don’t mess with Mr. In-Between,” we can choose to honor “Mr. In-Between” by celebrating these recurring natural periods of significant change with personalized ritual and ceremony.
In-Between Rituals Help
When experiencing a change of status, consciously shifting one’s energy can be useful in opening thought to a new way of being. Here are just some examples.
Toast awaking to a new day with a morning beverage. Raise a coffee cup or glass of orange juice in the air and acknowledge the sheer beauty and joy of starting the day’s adventure.
Walk the dog. After the boots are on, the leash is secured and you’ve walked out the door, pause to stand still in the middle of the journey. Take time to notice the trees, a flower or the dog’s activity without being concerned where the walk is heading, when you’ll get there or when you’ll be back home.
In the car at a red light, instead of checking for calls or email, take a deep breath. Then give full-hearted thanks for this glorious in-between moment on the road of life.
Move to a place of non-thought. Notice how unfocused awareness soaks up all that is around and inside you. Enjoy several moments each day of the freedom in not thinking at all.
Step away from the computer. Stand up and do a short soft shoe dance beside the desk. Maybe it will start a new craze in the office.
Laugh. There’s no better way to mark the in-between than with a good belly laugh. Let it well up from the abdomen and penetrate being as it moves through the body, is welcomed by the jaw muscles and then rushes out through the mouth in its own personal concoction of sound and breath.
Life-Cycle Celebrant Dorry Bless, of Musconetcong River, New Jersey, creates and presides over one-of-a-kind ceremonies to mark her clients’ big moments: marriage, birth and death. She also crafts rituals for extraordinary in-between moments such as career and relationship transitions, moving, milestone celebrations and healing life shifts, plus animal companion tributes. Bless is certified by the Celebrant Foundation and Institute and serves on its board of directors.
For more information, visit CircleOfLifeCeremonies.com.