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Five years in a liminal space

Until I read Suleika Jaouad's Between Two Kingdoms, I had barely heard the word liminality.

Now I'm obsessed with busting out of it.

There is lyric in "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" by Coldplay that describes what it's like to be in a liminal space.

"I'm in the gap between the two trapezes."

I retired from full-time teaching five years ago. When I let go to that life, I knew I'd be floating in space for a bit. I was prepared to take a moment to find something new to latch onto.


But not five years — and counting. There are reasons. Covid. A move. My wife's shoulder surgery. Indecision. But still, five years? Five years that feels like five months.


For years prior to her death, I consoled myself by telling myself, When Kihie (my French bulldog) dies, I'm hitting the road. I won't want to be home, in her (our) space.


Now, nearly a year since I lost her, I'm driving. I write this from Nevada. I'm heading across the southern U.S. to Key West. Then up the coast to New Jersey, across the north central states, all the way to Seattle, then down the west coast to home in Moorpark, California.


Along the way, I have goals. They add purpose to the trip, but also a touch of anxiety. Will I get done? What if I don't?


Number one is to ask some of the country's best teachers,

"If you had just one day to teach one class one lesson, what would it be?"

I'll be sharing their wisdom during and after the trip.


I'm also planning to

  • hang new nets on netless basketball hoops because naked rims are so unsatisfying to the shooter, especially when it's a perfect, swishless airball (that's not really an airball).

  • offer Missing Pieces to as many independent bookstores as I can convince to sell it on consignment. (I have 60 copies in my car. I hope to get home with zero.)

  • work on updating and expanding Missing Pieces.

  • attend services at a variety of churches to hear different ideas and perspectives on religion and faith.

  • connect with special former students who are living in places far from Fremont, California (where we met).

  • tell people about the soon-to-be-launched (on Kickstarter) The Meet-up Journal (and Guidebook).

  • try to figure out how I want to spend the rest of my life.

I'm hoping you'll follow me on my expedition. I know I'll have some lonely nights in strange places. I know I'll face rejection and disappointment. So I know I'll need as much love and support as I can get.


Yet, I'm optimistic that there will be cool things, too. I'm looking forward to inspirational, life-affirming conversations as I immerse myself in great people and enchanting places.


Near the end, as King Arthur was losing everything dear to him, he asked his sage, "Merlin, what should I do when I'm sad?"


"Learn something," Merlin advises. "Learn something."


I've been sad a lot — I always feel like I'm barely a step ahead of serious depression.


I'm pretty sure that's why I'm traveling. Because I know that no matter what happens, good or bad, I'll learn something.


Here are the places (so far) where you can follow me as I traverse and immerse:

And of course here at jaimerichards.org


I'll be in touch and maybe, if I'm lucky, we'll meet up while I'm on the road.


If not, when I'm back with a firm grip on the next trapeze.

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