Middle of Nowhere

Posted by Cheryl on Jan 7, 2012 in Main Categories |

I haven’t blogged since last summer when my Dad’s health really took a serious downturn. He passed away in October – and I guess it’s taken me til now to just begin to move forward, through this bewildering, sort of surreal time for dealing with that loss and change. I’ve been feeling a bit lost.

One way that my Dad’s death has affected me is that I have this increased determination to be sure to be living life. My life. So that takes me to a place of deep reflection about how I already do that, and where and how I don’t. It brings up alot of questions for me and, naturally, also reveals my own self-inflicted barriers and fears. All that said, I know I’m in a place of figuring some of that out – and I know that’s a really good thing, even though sometimes it sort of pinches! But it’s a great gift to be aware of it all. And to find comfort in amongst it all. This blog is a message of welcome to this new year. And a message of thanks to my father, who taught me lots of lessons — many of them about courage.

The Middle of Nowhere

Between the old and the new, there is a place that is a kind of nowhere-land and it is one of the most challenging places to be. It can be lonely and is full of uncertainty and tensions. These feelings come from the need to let go of the old and familiar and intentionally make the leap towards the new. It’s an uncomfortable ‘space’ but it is always part of the journey; a ‘nowhere’ that means we’re in between. I want to feel more at peace with this ‘nowhere’ space in 2012.

Anyone I know who’s gone through big change in their lives (and that’s pretty much EVERYONE I know) vividly recalls experiencing, at some point, the unnerving sense of being lost, far from shore, compass-less. The most difficult part about feeling that you’re nowhere is that it is so full of uncertainty – but this very uncertainty is a necessary, productive, rich part of the process of growing, of meeting life changes head on, of truly opening up to imagining what’s next. I’ve listened to my brilliant colleague, Frances Westley, encourage students of social change to rest in ‘not knowing’ for as long as it takes a truly innovative idea to emerge – she reminds us over and over again that there is a direct correlation between a person’s capacity to tolerate uncertainty and the capacity for creating something new in the world. We need to know that it’s not only okay to feel lost for a time in nowhere-land, but that nowhere is a kind of gift with much to teach us about ourselves, our work, our lives. Wagoner’s beautiful poem, “Lost”’ encourages explorers to ‘stand still’ and to remember that although you may feel lost, the forest always knows where you are.

In 2012, I will allow myself to spend time more deliberately in “the middle of nowhere”; sometimes dancing elegantly, certainly also falling from time to time. I want to rest in those spaces of uncertainty and unknowingness because that is where creativity, authenticity, and courage live. The last few years have been big ones for me in terms of change – moving from the familiar to the brand new. This has had to do with home, work, relationships, even life and death. I’m entering a more intentional time of being open to some personal transformation – preparing for the next stage of my life. I have a lot of questions and almost no answers. I simply have some hunches, some threads, and, of course, some loving friends and family – more than enough to begin. Which is always the most important step.

Walking, even if a bit wobbly-legged, in the Middle of Nowhere offers up really good questions and, ultimately, reveals new ideas about what the answers might be. This year, I’m going to practice letting go and living for awhile with not knowing. Just long enough to open up to possibility, to who I am now, and to how I want to move forward. Just long enough for my courage and commitment to my own life to be strengthened. To those of you who also find yourself wandering in the middle of nowhere – take heart. And let’s keep an eye out for each other – there’s no need to do this all alone.
Happy New Year.


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