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[mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” font_family=”none” text_size=”16″ align=”left”]Honor the space between no longer and not yet. – Nancy Levin[/mk_blockquote]
The first time I remember being in “the space between no longer and not yet,” I was 11 or 12 years old. It was Thanksgiving and I was with my cousins. Until that year, I’d never questioned my inclusion in the older (and cooler) half of the crowd. But as we reunited, it was suddenly clear to me that my older cousins had crossed a threshold that wasn’t even visible to me. Suddenly the four year spread between my oldest cousin and me was gigantic. What made this even harder for me was that, unlike late-blooming me, my cousin who was exactly my age was wildly precocious and could gracefully hang – and even be a leader – within the older crowd. For that reunion, which I’d looked forward to all year, I was decidedly stuck in the space between no longer being a little kid and not yet being a teenager.
This happened again in my first job after graduate school. I worked with a team of men and women who were all nearly twice my age. I learned a great deal in those three years – not only about the publishing business, but about being an actual adult rather than an “adult in training,” which we all are at 24. As I gradually gained responsibility within my job, my age became a bigger and bigger burr under my saddle. It felt the same as that long ago Thanksgiving. I no longer felt like a “kid,” but I was not yet really an adult. At least not in comparison to these seasoned professionals.
In both of these instances, rather than focusing on the change, growth and potential that “no longer” revealed to me, I was obsessed with “not yet.” Rather than trusting that in good time I would be a super-cool teenager (as it turns out, I was only a teenager, not a super-cool one) or a professional with wisdom that only years can deliver, I felt in a hurry to move on. I felt pushed down. I felt misunderstood. I chafed and I squawked.
Looking back, I see that my insistence that I was what I so obviously wasn’t just made me look even younger and less mature to my cousins and my colleagues. I was also making myself miserable.
The space between no longer and not yet appears to us regularly as we practice on our yoga mats. Perhaps we are beginning to feel stronger. We can see definition in our triceps. We are thrilled by this development and take it as an indication that we will be able to lower into chatarunga and stay there, hovering inches from the floor. We are crushed when we collapse unceremoniously in a bellyflop onto the floor. Turns out that while we are no longer too weak to even think about the low push-up, we’re not yet ready to do one.
Perhaps we are thrilled by newfound mobility in the shoulder or knee or hip that has plagued us for as long as we have practiced. So we push it. Maybe we take a posture that our teacher has suggested we modify “for now.” Maybe we press ourselves to go even further in a posture where we’re seeing progress, thinking that change will naturally beget more change, especially if we try really hard. Maybe we ignore little warning signs of soreness or fatigue because we are determined to keep getting stronger, keep getting looser, keep getting “better.” We’re crushed to wake up the next morning hurting. Turns out that while we’re no longer too hurt or too stiff or too old or too “whatever,” we’re not yet ready to do it all.
After we resist and rebel and try to push past the space between no longer and not yet enough times, we begin to understand what it means to honor that space. This honor is a combination of celebrating our growth and respecting our limitations. We rejoice in our progress. We cheer ourselves on as we see changes that may not be visible to anyone else but us. At the same time, we are clear-eyed. We know what we are currently capable of, and we respect that. We know our weaknesses as well as our strengths. We know enough to know what we don’t know.
Best yet, as we gain experience being in the space between no longer and not yet, we become certain that the required learning and growing will be exhilarating. We figure out that this space is not a tedious waiting space, but is instead a space filled with living that is just a vibrant and exciting as arriving finally at the stage we’re so fiercely craving.
Like my practice, life has an unerring way of bringing me again and again to this space. This time, I look at my oldest child and realize that the idea of sending him off to college is no longer an impossibility. At the same time, I realize that I am in no way ready to do so. So, daily as I practice, I remind myself to honor this space. I trust implicitly that this time of being between no longer and not yet is the key to me finally being ready for that August day when we move him into his first dorm room.
What “no longer” and “not yet” are you between?,
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