Illumine Possibility — The Magic of Liminal Spaces

Daniel Ryan Reiff
4 min readFeb 12, 2024

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about Liminal spaces. (Not the aesthetic, though that is a fascinating subject as well. On a side note, if you were old enough to play computer games in the 90s, you may appreciate this.)

No, I’ve been thinking about Liminal Spaces in the sense of going through a transition or crossing a threshold. It is a changing of seasons or a feeling of being in Limbo. Rick Simmons, the CEO of telos, and someone who has written much on the subject, refers to Liminal Spaces as “a period of disruptive discontinuity that creates an openness to change…A pattern breaking moment that disproportionately opens us up to other changes that may be possible.” I LOVE This.

I like to think we all move through our lives in seasons, we fall into patterns, and what is normal today was not not necessarily normal yesterday. Sometimes we get stuck in a pattern for too long, and it seems unthinkable that anything would change. Sometimes life comes along and slaps you upside the head, and your life quickly becomes unrecognizable. Entering a metaphorical, psychological, or emotional Liminal Space may be planned, or it may be unplanned. Liminal is derived from the Latin word for “threshold”, which is “limen”.

The last six months have seen me move through some major Liminal Spaces — serious life changes — so I’ve become exceedingly aware of the phenomenon. Some of these changes were planned. Others were unexpected but somewhat planned for. And a couple were absolutely unplanned. All of these changes have been disruptive, and not necessarily in a bad way. I can’t speak of too many specifics because the other people in my life whom this affects are not ready to share their stories. (Sometime though in the future, I will share MY story of the last 5 years, because I think it might be helpful to others.) Broadly though, the changes involved, but were not limited to: Moving, Health, Business(es), Money, Family, Lifestyle, and Love

Liminal Spaces can be scary. They represent the unknown. Our brains like patterns and routines. They can be especially scary if it feels like you can’t find your way through them. Yet they also represent an amazing opportunity for personal growth. We tend to be stubborn about change — given the choice, we would usually not bother with it. When it is out of our hands, however, we have no choice but to deal with it. Hopefully, we embrace it and make the most of it.

Let’s read that quote again: “…a period of disruptive discontinuity that creates an openness to change…A pattern breaking moment that disproportionately opens us up to other changes that may be possible.

This is a really exciting idea to me, not just because yes, I became more open to change, but because I became “disproportionately open” to other, additional, changes that may be possible. One of my taglines and personal mantras I use a lot is “Illumine Possibility” or “Illuminate Possibilities”. Sometimes we forget to internalize the wise sayings we claim to live by and fall into patterns. (Anybody remember “The Waiting Place” from Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! ?)

I’ve made a lot of transitions. My daily routine is radically different than it was six months ago, and my priorities are radically different as well. Some of the positive ones I’m comfortable speaking about:

  • After recovering from a back injury that made me temporarily dependent on others to perform basic daily tasks, I will never take basic functionality for granted again. My daily workout and rehab routine are a religion to me; I have too many people depending on me to ever be in that position again.
  • I mostly used to work from a home office of my own design, which I started doing many years before it became fashionable because of Covid-19. I now willfully commute daily to an office that I LOVE and enjoy looking forward to work on the drive. Even more special, I enjoy driving home and looking forward to seeing the beautiful family I share my life with every day. My life is full, abundant, and busy — the old me would have sneered and called this the “rat race”. Now I just feel like I’m living my best life.
  • The definition of family can be fluid, and sometimes families can unexpectedly grow and expand overnight. This has happened to me, and much like the Grinch, my heart has grown three sizes as a result.
  • This time last year, while I had been mulling over the still nascent idea for it, I had no idea I would end 2023 with a new business venture under my wing. Creating the Human Creator Alliance with my cofounders has been an illuminating, edifying, and ultimately satisfying experience, and I’m thrilled to see what is in store for us in 2024. Yes, it is true that my “day job” has always been a business that I own (my digital agency), and thus being a self-employed entrepreneur presents its own kind of omnipresent “Liminal Space” that I am always navigating to an extent, but the journey of creating a startup designed from the ground up to scale, and with an extremely important and urgent social mission that I truly believe in, has been a ride like no other.

One additional thing I will share about all of this (and I didn’t mention half of the transitions I’ve had to endure); there were times when things seemed quite bleak. I had more scares than I’d care to have in a lifetime, let alone a year. Just remember, it is always darkest before the dawn. Sit in gratitude. And most importantly, stay open to change; you never know what wonderful twists and turns await. Life is Magic.

Original Post: