“I struggle to think of anything more miserable than living a life in the wretched hollow of the in between.”
Ok. This is about Life and, well, having quoted myself to open this piece:
What if that is all there is?
What if life is made up primarily of the inbetween?
And what if it is actually more important than all the other shit we focus on day in and day out?
What if the in-between is the big epic holiday from Life?
For all we could and should being
In the one life that we’ve got.
Everybody says that time heals everything.
But what of the wretched hollow?
The endless in-between?
Are we just going to wait it out?
Imogene heap (Wait it Out)
Think about it. If life is a journey <not a destination>, then isn’t the completion of that thought that you are always in between? In between where you were and where you will be <or you are going>. Kind of like living Life constantly in a liminal space.
Geez. That doesn’t sound good. In fact that sounds horrible <to me>. And I imagine to people who have specific aspirations and goals and things they target as “success in life” it is even worse because I bet it sounds an awful like nonsuccess, lack of focus and wasted energy. It sounds like either not knowing where you are supposed to go <which is something that everyone is telling you is the key to happiness> or you are stuck someplace that isn’t moving toward where you want to go.
None of that sounds good. But isn’t inbetween <in this sense> about finding your way? Finding ‘home’ mentally’? Where home, in the sense of ‘where I am going’, remains elusive mentally and physically. Doesn’t it mean you are in the search for, well, whatever it is you are searching for?
That means we are all supposed to be searching <gulp> all our lives.
That was generalization.
How about thinking about this as living inbetween on the majority of things all our lives.
Majority? Would it be okay to be in between on all the <85%> things, but ‘where you meant to be’ on the 15%? That suggests you are anchored on the important, or some, things.
Is that good?
Well. As I noted above for me that is still miserable <or at least sounds so>. Not knowing something as important as that seems like it should be in the minority of the time and not the majority <meaning it is okay to ‘not know’ for periods>.
And yet. If you have ever been to a tropical island I would suggest many of the people there live long periods of their life in between – by ‘in between’ I mean simply meandering through Life.
The majority seem to have left something behind but … well … haven’t made any decisions with regard to gaining anything more ahead <tangibly>. In my rat race words they still have not found what they are seeking.
Here is the crazy thing.
They, for the most part, are quite content.
They seem to smile more <good> and maybe bathe less <not so good>.
They may wear the same shirt a couple of days in a row … and it isn’t some fancy designer shirt.
They don’t wear socks and they seem to be in less of a hurry <but almost always seem to get places on time>.
And … well … they seem to smile more.
This all makes me think maybe it is just me. Maybe I am trapped in the American ‘can do’ or ‘should do’ attitude and missing out on what life has to offer when you spend it in the in-between.
I do know that when I am around people who are peacefully existing in the inbetween I seem to wander there into that wretched space. And it doesn’t seem so wretched then. And I wonder. Think. And then it is painful <becoming wretched again>.
But they seem to smile more.
Maybe part of growing up is learning how to be comfortable in the in between and not “being successful” and “having something to show.”
But it seems strange to me.
It seems so far out of my natural DNA the thought of it makes me reach for another cocktail just to calm myself.
But they seem to smile more.
I admit. When I see them smiling and they talk to me about their own in between, oddly enough, it reminds me of Alice in Wonderland:
Alice: “would you tell me please … which way I ought to go from here.”
Cheshire cat: “that depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
Alice: “I don’t much care.”
Cheshire Cat: “then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Alice: “so long as I get somewhere.”
Cheshire Cat: “oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
I imagine we all reach some crossroads in our lives. Some moments when we question where to go from here.
I am an older guy. I’m supposed to not only know where I am going but I am also supposed to be well on my way to be there <wherever or whatever ‘there’ is>.
Sometimes I feel I have visited ‘there’ already and, well, shit. It wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
That said. Frankly, lately I wonder about what I will be “when I grow up” <which I imagine is the mature view of ‘where am I going’>. Therefore I do spend some time in that wretched hollow I call ‘the in between.’ And, yup. it is wretched to me.
All my life I have improved businesses, organizations, people and projects. And I love doing that. And I imagine along the way I have improved myself <at least one would hope that was a byproduct>.
At the moment I am doing none of those things <at least on a 100% basis which is what I am used to>.
So what happens next?
I define myself by doing. Unfortunately, in doing that it makes you think — what happens when you stop doing?
Well. I have to stop worrying about how I “did” in the past and just keep doing what I have always believed has created some ‘value’ in Life — just not in the way I used to where organizations counted on me.
Being a salaried employee is comfortable. Doing and providing value daily, if not weekly, is comfortable … at least to me. I don’t know that I am that different from the majority in this sense. Many of us, most of us I believe, like feeling productive. Heck. Most of us like BEING productive <in some form or fashion>.
It is funny. I had this discussion with someone sitting at a bar in the islands. Someone who was comfortable with the inbetween. Mostly comfortable because they defined their Life differently and, frankly, from a pragmatic standpoint had figured out a way to do something that paid the bills without the ongoing stress of where next month’s money is going to come from.
Anyway. Lastly. Here is what I think about in-between and people and today’s culture.
Sometimes people need to be pulled out of the in-between because they do not belong there. They cannot get out on their own.
Wow. That certainly goes against all of today’s “you have to be a self starter” or “you cannot count on anyone but yourself” or “no one is going to do it for you” philosophy being expounded, and pounded, into today’s culture. I say this because I think of this the same as the slippery slope of Life. The in between, just as the slippery slope, is difficult to get off of or out of without a helping hand. This isn’t about not being strong enough or not being enough of a self starter … or not even not being qualified or ‘good enough’ at some work talent … some people just get stuck.
And some of those people are simply better at being in the game than in getting in the game.
I know I tell people to get in the game all the time. Take chances and take some uncomfortable risks. And I am not backing off of that. But there is a difference between doing that while actually in the game then when you are out seeking to get in.
For example, myself, put me in the game and I will play like every second is the last second of the game. I take calculated risks and am relatively fearless in a business environment. But I am also relatively clueless about getting in the game if I am on the sidelines. It is a different skill and a different attitude. This isn’t about avoiding anything … or avoiding choices <or inability to make the hard choices> and it is not even about being lazy; it is simply a different Life skill.
This in-between thing can be quite wretched for many of us I imagine.
All I really know is that the conversation I had made me think and the next day at the same bar I had this scribbled on some napkins for them to read <they all bought me drinks after reading>.
I don’t share many things I write personally but try this one out as I ponder ‘what I will be’ and what I will do because I feel like I still have something to offer <professionally>.
And I am currently squarely residing in the in between.
And it is a really uncomfortable place for me.
In fact … I am relatively sure the inbetween is the wretched hollow in Life.
Napkin scribblings at a bar in the Caribbean after a pain killer <or 2>. Oh. This is also probably my first published piece in that the bar owner liked it so much it is now posted behind the bar.
Here you go:
‘tomorrow I was nothing’
yesterday I was no more than today
today I was believing that which is was not.
in some little place in between everything i hold on to “I believe in me.”
makes you wonder
if we ever reach a day
when we can discern the difference
that which is
and what will be
and what we believe,
even in me.
so are we destined to suffocate
in the silent seconds
strewn in the wretched hollow
of the in between
where the only thing seen
of the difference between
what is, what was and what will be.
oh, so i ask Life to wait on things
things that seem practical to the wise
as i wait
for wisdom with closed eyes
hoping all will appear on our fingertips to touch
that which is right from the wrong
and what we can feel may lie unseen in the in between
where it all becomes real
can you count the Mondays
Life thinks of calling me
because in the hollow of the in between
I know that i am you and you are me
and in the grey
in between decisions
seek the light of what is right
despite the fact you sometimes doubt that which is
and aim to the left
where darkness beckons.
in the end
departing the wretched in between
is simply what it is
and always comes back to what was.
so don’t blink
or you may you sink into the in between
of what you think
rather than what you should know
for tomorrow was nothing
was holding your dreams
and today is what is.
<please note: I wrote the original for this in 2013 in a very pensive mood while relaxing on an island in-between – pun intended – working on business projects remotely. It is now 2018. I may still wander in the inbetween on occasion and, yes, it is still a wretched place, generally speaking, for me>
Thanks for reading <sometimes don’t think I say this enough>.