Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Liminal Places

I was struck by the signs in Corfu town for Limani/Port. The Greek language can have the effect of a push in the mind's back shoving you into awareness. Because so many words in English have their origin in Greek. Oh of course you think, as you stumble in your tracks, on the edge of a yellow marble paving stone. The liminal places! These back-pushes are recognitions, that can so quickly become familiar and accustomed, as in the rest of life and language, as we become complicit with – whatever it is that seeks comfort, ease, stability and familiarity. But our thorny parts prick us into the unknown, which sometime appears in a variety of costumes, surprising, awkward, hostile, liberating.

Sometimes the language provides the push into territory that reveals itself, like the familiar light bulb image of sudden awareness. The revealed inner landscape often has the quality -as well as being new - of also being anciently known. So some say that all profound knowing is re-discovery.

So the limani/port are threshold places, on the edge of the known, places that touch on and mix with another element – sea, air, distance, where contours waver and possibly break up – where our psychology and our identity also can adopt waveforms and divide up into shimmers of light.

To be reminded of this brings a new excitement to stepping onto the ship's sloping metal drawbridge, and walking up to the deck. You are about to engage with another element, you are about to be changed by this. When you walk down the gangway again, it will be to touch land that is not the same as the land you left and you too, will be changed.