Thresholds

Since last week, the idea of thresholds has been nagging at me, chewing on my insides, that tugging to dig a little deeper. And ironically Tuesday I actually tripped over a threshold. Thresholds are those strips of wood or metal in doorways, on the floor, as you pass from one room to another, from one surface to another. This is what I tripped over. I laughed inside at the irony of this.

When in life have I stumbled crossing from one experience to another? Then I did what I do best, I mentally dissected it. I looked at my life to see when I cross between life experiences, and do I at times move so quickly I stumble? I wrote last week that thresholds are everywhere I turn, that life really is about thresholds, not the spaces in between. Maybe it’s both. But I really became aware that I don’t often pause before crossing from one room to another.

So after Tuesday’s stumble, I decided to spend a few days noticing thresholds as I walked around my house. At every threshold, from carpeting to linoleum to wood to concrete to tile to wood again, I stopped to feel the surface beneath my feet. Smooth, rough, prickly, cold, comforting, slippery. I consciously stepped across each threshold, pausing as I crossed to the other side.

That’s when it hit me. How often do I pause as I move from one experience to the next? How often to I stop and feel the landscape of one place before crossing into another place, and how often do I pause after stepping into something new? Have I sat in the environment and immersed myself in my landscape of feelings, thoughts and sensations? Have I felt my bare feet firmly planted wherever I am, and then felt the air beneath my feet as I pick them up to step across the threshold? What do I notice? Is my world rough, soft, peaceful, calm, stormy, painful, cold, joyful?

What I realized is that it is all of these things. It is the paradox of living everything, that’s what the threshold is about, not leaving something behind as I step over a new threshold, but being with the entirety of my human condition.

I took a picture yesterday of the little, dilapidated white house on my property that at one time had been the slave quarters for a larger plantation house. Behind the house is an enormous tree that is filled with orange and gold leaves. The sun was setting so the tree looked as if it were on fire from the glow of the sunlight.

As I lifted my camera to my eyes, I saw the beauty and the decay of a threshold. Both the house and the tree were decaying, run down, falling apart. The tree, as it held onto its last leaves with sagging arms, before moving into the naked winter, and the house so broken down and beat up I wasn’t sure it would be standing much longer. It was exuding the energy of a time gone by befitting the ugliness of slavery and the cruelty we humans are capable of. And yet, as I paused to watch the setting sun for a moment the beauty was unmistakable.

The tree was alive with color and radiance as it stood majestically watching over the little abode. Beckoning me to connect with my landscape, to embrace the parts that look and feel elegant, grand and glowing brightly, as well as those things that are misshapen, distorted or neglected.

I still have the question of whether or not I am letting go of something when I cross a threshold. There is so much talk about releasing those things that don’t serve us when we move into new experiences, and I’m not so sure about that anymore. And while I understand what is being said about releasing and letting go of course, I can’t help but wonder if maybe I am learning to fully embrace the the neglected, decaying and mistreated pieces of myself in a new way.

Perhaps when I take the parts of my life that I believe are not serving me and hold them so close to my heart they connect to the whole of me and become indistinguishable from one another, integrating and melding. Like putting missing pieces into a puzzle – every piece matters for the image to be complete, to be alive with all its color, radiance and majesty.