From Chapter One
She was not looking for him. He was not looking for her. As a matter of fact, they were both somewhat attached to other people. Yet, the minute they saw each other, their body parts began to twitch, and their eyes began to sparkle. The meantime was brewing. They worked their way across the room, neither aware that the other was doing the same thing. He spoke first. No, she did. She asked him a silly question to which he and his twitching body parts were more than willing to respond. He ducked his attachment. She ducked hers. They needed some time to talk. They did, and they laughed, something neither of them seemed to do very often with their attachments. They exchanged telephone numbers to their places of employment. Although they both knew, they both acted like they didn't. Reluctantly, they both rejoined their attachments, and together they entered a simmering pot of meantime stew.
When you are not happy where you are and you are not quite sure if you want to leave or how to leave, you are in the meantime. It's a state of limbo. You are hanging on, ready to let go, afraid to fall, not wanting to hurt yourself, afraid you will hurt someone else. In the meantime, you pray the other person will let go first so that you will not feel guilty.
The other person keeps dropping hints, letting you know that it's time to go. You deny it! Why? You don't know why, but I can tell you that the meantime is fraught with don't knows and can't do's. Don't know why I can't go. Don't know why I should stay. Don't know where I'm going. Don't know how I am going to get there, wherever there is. Ambivalence, confusion, reluctance, and paralysis are all characteristics of the meantime. If you knew the answers to these questions you would be just fine. In the meantime, you are many things, fine is probably not one of them!
Life would be so much easier if, when we hit a snag in a relationship, any relationship, we would stop, address it, and move ahead smoothly. The truth is, in most cases, we could do just that. The reality is, we don't do it! We keep moving. We allow little insults to become raging angers, little arguments to become festering feuds, little pains to become deep wounds, and we keep moving. In many cases, we keep hurting. When the relationship at issue is an intimate, loving one, the attempt to move forward without addressing the pain only complicates matters, further poisoning the relationship.
How can I stay and not get hurt? How can I go without hurting? You cannot answer these questions if you are in pain. What you can do is make the effort to discover the truth about love, because it is the only thing that can help you move through the experience. In the meantime, if we can remain loving of ourselves and toward other people by staying in conscious and honest communication, a disruption, snag, or delay in a relationship becomes a healing process. When we cannot, we engage in meantime behavior---hurting, fighting, not telling the truth, and moving forward in confusion. Confusion begets confusion.
Back to our meantime lovers. Two weeks later, she called him at work. He had already called her twice, but hung up when her voice mail answered. In the meantime, they each tried to convince themselves that they should not call each other again, but they desperately needed to see each other. He invited her out for a drink. She set the date, time, and place. He showed up with a rose, a single pink rose. The minute she saw it and him, the twitching body parts began to thump. Her attachment became a blur, and she didn't know what to do. He did. He said all the right things, in just the right tone of voice, at the right moment, which created a corresponding thumping in his corresponding body parts. She told him about her attachment. He told her about his. Well, not exactly. Although there was someone, his someone knew what the deal was. That's when she realized she was headed for trouble. Quickly, she made her excuses and took her thumping body parts home. In the meantime, he had two more drinks and tried to figure out what he was going to do and how he was going to do it.
Copyright © 1998 by Iyanla Vanzant
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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