“There are gaps in the mesh of the everyday world, and sometimes they open up and you fall through them into somewhere else. Somewhere Else runs at a different pace to the here and now, where everyone else carries on.”
~ Katherine May in her wonderful book, Wintering
Sometimes, “as simply and discreetly as dust sifting between the floorboards,” we fall through our regular lives into a place between worlds—“Somewhere Else”—as writer Katherine May tells us. She calls this wintering.
I have been thinking a lot of about this mythic place: Somewhere Else. The place between worlds. Between identities. Between stories. Between seasons. That place where you seem to be out of synch with the world around you because the rhythms of your own heart and body, your own needs and desires, your own exhaustion, hope, and imagination, are so loud that you cannot hear the beat that the world around you is moving to.
I recognize this place. I have slipped through into Somewhere Else many times in my life. I imagine you have too. The seasons we spend Somewhere Else can be exceedingly difficult. This mythic place can be loud and hollow and quiet and full. And it can feel like the end and a beginning all at once. It is complex ~ nothing is only one thing after all.
But one thread runs through: we can fight and battle this mysterious place, or we can learn to befriend it. We can learn to be still long enough to get to know this strange liminal place.
This gesture of peace does not catapult us back into the topside world. But it may help us find a home in deeper and truer places than we thought possible. It may help us shed necessary tears and worn out skins. But more importantly, it may us remember our belonging.
It may help us remember that Somewhere Else is as right as the emptying of our hearts and lungs, as right as the starkness of winter, as right as the moonless sky. It is just hard, but that doesn’t mean we have taken a wrong turn or failed.
In Somewhere Else, we may feel disoriented, but we are not lost. We may feel isolated, but we are not alone. We are fully and firmly within the reach of our Deepest Belonging. Just as we may find ourselves enfolded within the shadows of Somewhere Else, so is Somewhere Else enfolded in the mysteries of our Belonging.
So, for now, if you find yourself Somewhere Else: We take soft breaths and look with curious, even if tired, eyes. We seek the support we need, gentle places to land and rest without explanation or justification. We move slowly, huddling close to the heat of our own hearts. We vow our faithfulness to a Relentless Tenderness toward ourselves and all of our experiences, and towards each other.
Remembering that cycles are always in motion, we will not be here forever, and we will be here again. And so it is. It all belongs.