The priviledge and the ordeal of the space between

I might always remember it as crickets Wednesday – the day of no email, no calls and no tasks. I will put it in the same box of my brain as the first day without my paycheck. My heart skipped a bit. Ok, a few.

This fall I am entering a very interesting, frightening and freeing time in my life. Equally enthralling and scary: I have no job, for the first time in 30 years, nowhere to go, I am in between projects and … the only certainty I have is that the doors I closed behind me needed to be closed. There is nothing I can tell about the future, I don’t see any path forming, I am just trying to navigate the space between as best I can.

Over the past days I have been thinking about this quote more and more:

Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

attributed to Viktor Frankl

I am intense and often emotions push me to react before I should. I knew it would be hard for me to allow for such a space, so I have been focusing on my ability to create it. And I made progress. I had been certain that the hardest thing for me to ever do is pause between stimulus and response. It never occured to me what a priviledge and ordeal it is to be in this space between.

When I was a child, one of my favourite books was Dunno by Nikolai Nosov (the Romanian version, Habarnam). In one of the fantastic stories of this book, Dunno encounters an animal called the pushpull. It is precisely this creature inhabiting me these days, as I am settling in while trying not to settle in too comfortably in the space between stimulus and response.

In the in betweens there is a constant push and pull. There is a pull to not get out of bed in the morning – why? to do what? There is a push to go and find the first job that comes about – I need to make a living! I need to be hired! There is a pull to scroll – a numb brain is better than a brain full of thoughts. There is a push to grab at anything that is thrown at me – anything is better than nothing! There is a pull to eat my body’s size in carbs – just today, promise! There is a push to not eat anything – I have put on five kilos anyway. There is a pull to be the victim – please help me, throw anything my way that will make my time seem well spent! There is a push to withdraw – in that place I know within myself there is silence and everyone leaves me alone.

As I swoosh back and forth between the pushes and pulls of my life these days, I am holding on tight to the seat of my swing: stay in the moment. Live every day. Sit with the discomfort. Look around. Breathe. Think. Let things be. Grab on to some, look at them carefully, keep only what you need. And don’t judge the rest of your life by the push and pull of this moment.

Photo by Sonali Saluja on Unsplash

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