Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Pinch Space

After an extended writing hiatus, I've finally returned to this space a few months older and maybe (debatably) a little wiser. Summer had its own lessons to teach me, and they may slide their way into this place when I've had the time and distance to untangle it all.

Right now I'm standing on the threshold of a new season: that vaguely foggy, uncomfortable middle gap that collects time and I always get a little restless in this place. I'd rather not let go of the old seasons I walk though. I'm the one who, once that ship has sailed, stands on the dock and watches until it disappears beyond the horizon and then I wait a little longer still, just in case a wave might raise it up for one last glimpse. In this case, I'm shifting from summer and work back into university for my second year.

It might be the period of life I'm in, but I'm a bit of a nomad. I feel as though I'm always living out of a suitcase, flipping between homes and cultures and communities and as much as I love it, the uprooting never fails to pinch, somehow. That pinch, though, is becoming more familiar and less scary as our paths cross more frequently. It is almost an acquaintance to me at this point. We meet again.

I guess I appreciate that pinch, in a way. It reminds me to be thankful for what I've been blessed with in the seasons passed, and it forces me to look ahead with a sense of adventure and a perspective of possibility.

I've also found a bit of a rhythm, or a strategy, if you will, for surviving the transitional period:

  • In my world, there is nothing that spinach can't fix: Or kale. Or pears. Or peppers. Essentially: eat as healthy as possible. I want to eat all the ice cream in the world when I feel a bit adrift, and sometimes I do, but I know that I feel infinitely better when I eat healthy and take care of myself. That is just motherly advice from me to you.

  • Resting space: I'm beginning to see this middle space as more of a gift and an opportunity to reflect and gather myself before diving into my next season. As chaotic as it may be, I take it as a chance to fill myself in small ways. I listen to really good music, pray, read my favourite books, write, bake, etc.

  • Look foreword: Personally, I always need a goal or a challenge in life to work toward, or my motivation and demeanour will flatline. The pinch space is always a place where I set some new goals, pick out some new things to get excited about, dream a little. I always pray about these things, but part of the process usually involves lists and Pinterest, on occasion.

  • Talk: Sometimes an honest conversation or two with a wise person can be the most healing medicine. Conversation has a way of kneading out little fears or insecurities I didn't even know I carried, and speaking those into open air, to another person with doubts and worries just as human as my own, has a habit of dissolving their weightiness. Tea also helps this process.

  • Debrief: I try to extract as much meaning out of life as I can. When a season ends, I usually look back on it and try to nail down what I learned, how I grew, or mistakes I made. I also try to carry that gained experience into my next phase of life in order to apply it in a new context. The pinch space is where I sort out some of those lessons and ask questions about myself, life, God, relationships. Some questions have answers and some remain open ended. Those open ended kind are the ones I carry with me into the next season to view in a different light, and they are often the questions that shape me the most.

Rather than idle time, I'm learning to view the pinch space as a bridge or a connection. It is a gift I can use to collect myself, to transition into a new season with a clearer vision of where I came from and where I am going. It is a season in itself, and it can teach me and shape me and possibly heal me as well, if I allow it to. I'm learning to use it, to say thank-you for it, and to appreciate the unlikely gifts it can give me.

Thank goodness for the pinch space.

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