Daily Archives: January 4, 2013

Standing at the threshold

tree framing door

I started to write a post about liminality, which turned out to be rather squirrelly, because it turned out to be difficult for me to structure a piece of writing about boundaries and borders dissolving. I was getting away from what I really wanted to talk about, which is about living at the margins. I have talked to a couple of people about this, and the notion I want to stress here is that this is not about being marginalized, but rather about hanging around at the edges – which are also often the points of intersection and overlap.

In my mental map of where I am located relative to the groups I associate with, it’s always on the edge – almost rarely it is in the center. I feel uncomfortable in large groups. I often feel like an oddball, that for whatever reason I just don’t quite fit in. I’m too slow, I’m too alternative/mainstream, too queer/not queer enough, too sensitive, I lack ambition, I’m not driven enough, etc. If I pull my gaze out further, I often imagine the spider web or Indra’s Net, where I am one point of intersection but if I only reach out in any direction there are a multitude of connections.

I like to hang out here, because there are interesting things that happen. And mostly, because I am perfectly positioned to connect people who are closer to the center. I have this idea that I am like the gloss that monks used to write in their manuscripts, adding commentary to color to the original text, expanding on it in some way and connecting people in the present to something from the past.


Liminality is about “standing at the threshold” – except that it refers to ritual space and an internal transformation that occurs for the participant. According to the wikipedia article, liminality has become more widely adopted and applied by mainstream culture, “undermining its significance.”

I love the liminal space, because it’s the space of transformation and also the space of possibility. It’s the place where the boundaries of time dissolve and we become connected across time and geography. A friend posted on Facebook about re-enacting an action that was done hundreds of time in the past in preparation for a ritual and how it collapsed the boundary of time until he felt that he was with the people who were doing it originally. I have experienced that same thing when I prepare food that I know my grandmother or ancestors going back further made. It’s like I have this power to bring the past to the present.


In my mind, these concepts are connected, just the like various groups with which I interact. However, connecting them in words is proving to challenge my abilities. I would love to hear your thoughts on any of these concepts and how you relate to them or how they relate to you.

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