I grew up living inside the question rather than in the answer.
Doubt was the only tool I had to move between the sliding slabs that tore at me, from the Aspergers views of my parents to the conventionality of the schools, from the lovely conflicting truths of science to the power of religious belief, from my tender femme heart to the expectations placed on my growing male body and so on.
This lead me to what Dave Gray and Mike Parker call “Liminal Thinking,” the deliberate questioning of beliefs, with their associated assumptions and expectations, to try and gain the tools that allowed me to find effective and testable theories to create understanding and possibilities beyond the conventional.
Moving through cultural walls that others believed were fixed and immutable made me a change agent, a shamanic character who challenged beyond comforting boundaries.
My sanity required living with both the hot and cold inside me. My chill mind slowly analyzed the situation, creating a functional explanation of both organic and constructed factors while my warm heart drove me towards love, caring, passion and mystical beauty.
My cold logic or my hot emotion was never the problem, rather the scary bit was always how I held both of these powerful forces at the same time. Those comfortable with logic found my emotional parts messy and those comfortable with emotion found my logical bits too sharp. Either way, the liminality of my approach, being the door, between, both and neither at the same time, was so challenging that they found reasons to shut me away, silencing me outside their own “self sealing bubble of belief.”
The experience of being “too” something — too cerebral, too visceral, too challenging, too intense, too bubble bursting, too queer, too whatever — lead me to create a life myth that I was just too hip for the room, that “nobody would get the joke.” Just by speaking my own liminal truth I tended to pierce the comforting beliefs that formed the foundation of other people’s identity. Unless they were committed to change, to growth and healing, to transformation, it was easier for them to marginalize me than to engage, mirror and affirm what I shared.
Considering myself too much, though, has become my own limiting belief. I have learned to attenuate and suppress myself, staying mostly hidden in the world. To tolerate the denial that requires, I have taken on aesthetic beliefs, learning to live with scarcity rather than to enter my own desires.
Leading me to an approach of well modulated professionalism and service — my “concierge mode” — others have come to appreciate how I keep my own power hidden while supporting their own needs, desires and possibilities. My playing small has kept them comforted, even as my own needs, desires and possibilities withered on the vine.
What if, though, what if there really is abundance out there for me, if only I believe in it enough to act as if, pushing beyond my own history of pain and fear to claim a new and valued incarnation?
Is it possible that the choice to not let my full energy shine has cost me more than it would gain me? Have I and the world changed enough that my history cannot predict the response, that there will be places where the seeds I have polished and created can now find fertile ground?
When you have spent a life immersed in the power of doubt, though, moving to belief is not easy. While evangelists, including self-help mavens, will be happy to tell you about purity of faith and philosophers will tell you about the power of questions, few try to approach the thorny subject of how to balance belief and doubt in one life.
This is my challenge, the balance between a sharp mind and a flowing faith, between cool thought and hot emotion. I know how to do this with other people, combining empathy and intelligence to help clarify and encourage their possibilities as they grow and heal in their own time and their own way. Empowering myself, though, is much harder, without selfless distance and patience.
My coolness, though, is what people think they want, because it seems to be more about them. They read my biology, my age, my authority, my smarts and cast me into the role they know that I should play in their world story. They project me into their assumptions and beliefs, demanding I pay a price if I don’t meet their limited expectations.
Enforcing identity becomes habit for most, cycling and perpetuating their own belief systems. The right way to be is obvious and so is enforceable. Even those who come together in the name of spirit first want to enforce doctrine, a politically based rightness which offers succour and solace for their believers.
Performance beyond boundaries is terrifying, even if holds the ultimate freedom. Encouraging that powerful individual expression demands moving beyond our own fears and defences, even when those are the talismans we believe protect us by making our own choices blessed and holy.
It is always our liminality, where we live across boundaries, that informs our transcendence.
My liminality, my transcendence, is between my cool, edgy, controlled mind and my hot, fluid, passionate heart. My confidence in showing the full blossom of that liminal self in the world is dented and battered from a lifetime of being a phobogenic object, the locus of so, so many projected fears.
Packaging that liminality, though, figuring what parts of myself to hide, what bits to polish to a gloss, and what just to try and keep fuzzy. Fuzzy, though, is just not something I do well. The sharpness and heat, well, it’s not easy to hide.
What if, though, what if there really is abundance out there for me, if only I believe in it enough to act as if, pushing beyond my own history of pain and fear to claim a new and valued incarnation? What if revealing and celebrating my essential liminality could open the gate to a new, rewarding and vibrant life?
Might there actually be, beyond my imagining, a good answer?