Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More Questions Than Answers

Last week I drove (well, rode, actually) 3 1/2 hours north to attend a conference in Dallas. The Metroplex isn't usually my favorite destination, but it was great to catch up with colleagues and friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in over a year. I also love this particular conference because it usually gives me a chance to embrace my inner nerd and learn something new.

This year's keynote speaker was Ed Linenthal, a historian and professor at Indiana University. That's probably meaningless to most of you, but I was totally geeking out because his work was situated squarely in my area of interest when I was in grad school. He gave a really interesting talk about history and revisionism (I know, you're yawning, I'll stop soon), and at one point he read a quote from another historian, Patricia Limerick (also a name that makes my inner nerd all giddy), that grabbed my attention:

"Every normal human being is forever recalculating, reorienting, reorganizing information and reaching for new understanding."

I might have been in an especially reflective mood because the last time I attended this conference, in March 2010, I was in a really different place. My soon-to-be ex-husband and I had just separated six weeks earlier, and I didn't know it then, but I was well on my way to a divorce. I felt lost, unmoored, and more than a little bit confused. I was in a liminal space, not quite here but not quite there, and it was deeply unnerving.

Lately I've been struggling with that same unnerved feeling because I feel at sea again - definitely not where I was last year, but not where I want to be either. I'm not sure where I'm going, or how I'll get there. It all feels transitory and unstable, and I don't know how to make peace with it. Limerick's words made me consider that perhaps this state - this place where things are constantly in flux, where I am finding a new path, where I am profoundly uncomfortable - is actually normal. My new normal.

The idea that constant change might be inevitable is something I can't quite wrap my head around yet. I realize that growth is important, but at the same time I long for the comfortable stability I imagine being the end product of that growth. Even the subtitle of this blog, "My Life, Under (Re-)Construction," implies a final destination that will come from all this turmoil. What if that end never comes? What if the process is endless? Where am I going then? And where am I now?


ilovebabyquilts said...

I almost wrote my thesis on the liminal space in cultures. To me, it's the most exciting place to be.

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