Today’s blog is by our friend Adam Woodhall, who joined us for an exploration of liminal space up on the flying trapeze. Part of the liminal space programme is about taking our experience on the trapeze to overcome the fear we face in our professional lives. Six months later here is Adam’s experience.
“The Liminal Space lies between the known and the unknown – it is a transitional space of heightened intensity that we experience when we cross the threshold of what is known.”
It’s a warm evening in the middle of August. I’m standing at edge of Regents Park, looking up at a slightly rickety looking flying trapeze set up. I’m looking forward with anticipation and nerves to trying out something new.
It’s a cold morning in the middle of February. I’m sitting in my office in Borough, looking back with surprising clarity to that evening in August. I’m looking forward with anticipation and nerves to creating something new.
Looking back to that evening, I remember warm thoughts of gratitude to the 6-Heads collective, and particularly Louisa, for giving me this opportunity. Sitting on the grass sharing with my fellow sustainability professionals about our nerves and anticipation, and looking happily over to my then new girlfriend, Jo.
Looking back over the last day, I’ve had warm thoughts of anticipation knowing that I would write this blog. It’s been sitting with me that I’ve an opportunity to share with my fellow sustainability professionals my vulnerability and flaws. I happily shared this plan last night with Jo as we chatted about our week ahead.
The feelings I had before climbing the ladder to make my first jump into the liminal space of the trapeze were of half-numbed, half-exhilarated emotional fear. Why was this I ask myself? The answer came quickly that partially this was because of what I was about to do; jumping into space, partially because I was first to go. I half allowed myself to feel these, as whilst rationally I knew that everything would be fine, this was clearly something new to me.
The feelings I had in the last few weeks since Louisa asked me to write the blog were of almost total numbness. Why was this I ask myself? The answer came slowly; partially because I would have to commit myself to something in writing, which always brings me fear, partially because I had written blogs many times. Rationally there was no reason to procrastinate writing this blog, emotionally I was in lock-down.
Jumping into the liminal space of the trapeze felt easy comparatively. What followed next was less easy. I had to follow the instructions precisely of the trapeze instructor on the ground to find out if I was ‘catchable’. “Jump”, “Legs up”, “Swing back”, “Release”. I heard these, but I didn’t respond to them all.
Jumping at the opportunity to write the blog felt easy comparatively. What followed next was less easy. I had to commit myself to writing this blog in a reasonable timescale to a reasonable standard. “Can you complete it by the 9th of Feb”. I heard this request, but something in me couldn’t respond to it.
After the second try on the trapeze at seeing if I was catchable, it transpired that I wasn’t that day. The instructor on the ground gave me a great insight. He said that I needed to feel his instructions, not try to hear them. But I knew that was only part of it, I also knew that even though I was physically capable of jumping into that liminal space, and I could teach myself to feel the instructions, a deep part of me didn’t believe that I was ‘catchable’. So that part of me conspired to make me not catchable.
After missing my second self-imposed deadline on writing this blog, it became clear to me that I had an opportunity to learn here. I turned to what I already knew about myself, that I had a fear of writing; of leaping into that literary liminal space. But I knew that was only part of it, I also knew that even though I was mentally capable of writing a good blog, and I ask for deadlines, a deep part of me doesn’t believe that I am lovable. So that part of me conspired to procrastinate writing this blog to create a disconnect.
I’ve not yet crossed the liminal space of trapeze, but I intend to take a course later this year, and train myself to feel the instructions and believe I’m catchable.
I’ve now crossed the liminal space of writing this blog, but I’ve still got a whole lot more writing to do this year whilst I continue to train myself to believe in myself and that I’m lovable.
Thank you Louisa and 6 Heads for giving me the opportunity to leap into the liminal space of the trapeze. I hope to fly again with you this year.
Thank you Louisa and 6 Heads for giving me the opportunity to leap into the liminal space of this blog. I hope to blog again for you this year.
If you are interested in joining this year’s liminal space programme please email Louisa at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about the programme here