Liminal Spaces

“The mythos of Eudemon…exploring the liminal spaces of Riverwest…meeting the ordinary folk and having a good time.”

The mysterious Eudemon has been a character in Riverwest Currents since the paper’s beginning. From the Greek, Eudemon (or eudaimon, or eudaemon) means “Good Spirit.” But what are these “liminal spaces” he’s always exploring? Liminal spaces are the spaces in between, transitions from one state to another. It comes from “limen,” the Latin word for threshold, the part of the doorway you step over. There are lots of liminal spaces in Riverwest. If you look at this neighborhood with an eye to notice boundaries and edges, the whole place can be seen as one big meandering borderline between different races, classes, ages, lifestyles, education levels, and political preferences. If you look without that kind of discernment, the way the old eyesight gets after a couple of beers, everything kind of mushes together. I guess you call that diversity. The charm and potential of Riverwest, however, exists in those liminal spaces. In those uncertain, dangerous places where you step just outside your comfort zone and try something new. Those situations when there is no easy answer. Those moments when your internal dialogue shuts down, just for a second, and you get a chance to really listen to something completely unexpected that has a chance to slip into your worldview. Something you never would have thought of on your own. This is a time particularly rich with liminal spaces. Halloween is coming up. This is a high holiday of the old earth religion, the day midway between the Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice. It’s called the Witch’s New Year, the end of the cycle when the harvest god dies with the crops and begins his travels to the Island of the Sun where he will be reborn. This death symbolism ties in with the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, on Nov. 1 and 2, and with the Christian All Soul’s Day and All Saint’s Day. It’s the time of year when we think about our beloved dead. The veil between the worlds is thin, and those who know how to go into the dark can be blessed with an audience and ask for wisdom and advice. Many of us will think of our friends who have passed in the last year. Friends like Marvin Hill, Jim Glynn and Jan Schopf of Riverwest, Lyx Ish of Dreamtime Village, and others. We’ll miss you, gentle spirits. We’ll meet you on the other side. We’re entering into a political liminal zone, as well. The unknown territory that awaits us on the other side of the November 2 boundary has many of us uneasy and fearful. I have been politically aware since about 1958, and this is by far the worst time I can remember. There was general distaste about Nixon — the feeling that he was just too much of a slimebag to be president (which turned out to be true). There was the fear that Barry Goldwater was going to get us into a nuclear war (a hypothesis we never had a chance to test). There was the premonitionthat Ronald Reagan was going to snooze through his tenure, which actually turned out not to be such a bad thing, except that the rich people got away with more cookies from the public cookie jar than usual. I remember how afraid I felt when I was just beginning to realize how powerful the President of the United States really was, and how much I had to trust that guy, whoever he was, even if I didn’t like him and nobody I knew had voted for him. My father had some words of wisdom for me. He said that nobody was ever really prepared to be the leader of the Western world. The best we could hope to do was choose a person of good character, and then that person would rise to the office. The presidency, he explained, was not the person, it was the office. Well, that aroused some strange images in my young mind. I imagined someone walking through the door of an office, “assuming the office,” as that odd phrase went. I imagined that person surrounded by a glow of light, suddenly and forever changed. Nevermore to return to a life of normal endeavors and homely enjoyments. And I still think that’s what happens. The person elected to be president passes through a liminal space into something completely unknown and life-changing. Into a place where he is tested and tempered every day. Into a situation where he becomes the person everyone is depending on to do the right thing. Maybe to be broken. Maybe to fail. Maybe, if he is careful and thoughtful and wise, to thread his way through the tortuous route without doing lasting harm. Maybe to be great. But probably not. With any luck at all a leader gets to preside over a time of extremely boring peace and prosperity, and his name will be forgotten. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen often enough. So here we stand, on this side of the veil, clinging to our preconceived notions and strongly held beliefs for all we’re worth. We’re getting ready to walk through a door of change, moving toward it whether we wish it or not. When we wake up on November 3, the world will be a different place. Whatever’s there, we’ll have to deal with it. There’s no way to imagine what it will be like. No way to prepare for it. It’s sort of like dying. Sort of like being born. Sort of like… …every other day.