2nd Horizon – The Tunnel of Choices
The idea of passing a test as an acknowledgement of a personal transformation, a change in one’s status is not new. For centuries, traditions like rites of passage have been used to signify the transition of clan members from one stage of life into another. For example, Sateré-Mawé tribe from the Brazilian Amazon challenges their 13 years old boys with the Bullet Ant Initiation as the proof that they are ready to join adult members of the society. Twenty times throughout several months’ period, the boys go through a ten-minute endurance test: they wear gloves full of live, biting bullet ants. As part of the challenge, they are not supposed to cry or show weakness: being able to cope with the pain means they are ready for manhood.
While not all rites of passage are so painful, all of them have something in common: there is this time of ambiguity and disorientation between the beginning of the ritual and its end, when the participants had separated from their past status but haven’t gained the new status yet. This time is called liminality or liminal space. Taking its origin from the Latin word which means “threshold”, it describes the situation when “what was” is gone, but “what’s next” is still unknown. It is when the solutions from the past are not effective anymore, the new solutions are not known yet, and it is hard to tell when this uncertainty will be over. It is like moving along a dark tunnel: feeling a bit claustrophobic, not knowing how long we will have to stay in this unsettling place and whether we will see the light in the end. Sounds familiar? Sounds like the second horizon of the pandemic: the Big Pause.
We have all been to a liminal space even before the pandemic. Be it about leaving a job without having an alternative, ending a relationship or moving to another country – any change in life when what used to be the norm is gone, but nothing has filled the space yet, the new normal has not formed, you haven’t grasped the rules of the game (or haven’t established these rules). Despite the discomfort of the uncertainty, liminal space is full of hidden potential because it offers us the choice: do we transform on the other end of the tunnel or do we just transit to the other side, carrying our old habits with us, remaining immune to change?If the pandemic is humanity’s riot of passage, testing whether we move from a teenage state to more conscious adulthood, how will we know if we passed the test?