From the ongoing situation in Gaza, coaching contracting conversations and new friendships, the topic of boundaries comes to mind.
Walking around Roma provides a perspective. At various points in the city, there will be remnants of a city wall, jutting out. A marker of a previous territorial boundary.
Having begun my career as an urban planner, I have a respect for the concept of city limits. They are a means for keeping a city contained and efficient. And they protect the rural land on its outskirts. Often the most interesting and difficult cases I had were those spent discussing and negotiating boundaries. Depending on which side you were on, you would be defending the rules to ensure that those boundaries would not be compromised. Or challenging those rules. Arguing that, in this unique case, flexing the boundaries is justified and would not create an adverse precedent. Time was spent debating. What would be the loss? Where is the gain? What would we end up creating? How would this impact the ecosystem?
Our own walls
Indeed, we spend our life time defining and protecting our boundaries. They define and protect us, as nations or individuals. It is a way of distinguishing ourselves and how we interact with others. We create our walls through our beliefs, attitudes and experiences. They are constructed over the years through family, social, cultural and national influences. Significantly they identify who we are, what we want, what we don’t want and what we find safe and acceptable. Some we create consciously and purposefully. Others more unconsciously and arbitrarily. We may create them out of a want for approval, control, security or sense of separation or belonging. They may be constructed without any real foundation. And at the end, they may give a false sense of security and create unnecessary divisions or hurdles. Or they may be valued and justified. But be ultimately restrictive. And may need to be eliminated or changed in order for us to flourish.
Our everyday choices communicate to ourselves and others where exactly our boundaries are.
Creating, defending and confronting them can bring violence and tragedy. As in the case of Gaza.
They can also bring learning, growth and new understanding.
As a friend said, it is at the boundaries where life happens.
Where we really see ourselves and the other. And the place where we test, explore, exchange, connect, challenge, compromise, love and develop.
For nurturing our relationships, the likes of Gestalt therapy can help us to focus on keeping the boundary between our self and our environment permeable. To allow meaningful communication and exchange. Yet be firm enough to retain our autonomy.
In terms of our physical, mental and emotional health, practices such as mindfulness yoga can encourage us to go up to those limits and explore them. We can breath into them and ‘dwell in that creative space’. Where we can find our positions are not fixed or static. But where they can be dissolved. And where new possibilities can be formed.
For nurturing our spirituality, pieces like this beautiful short film by Saskia Kretzchmann as inspired by Edgar Allan Poe can encourage us to go further. So ponder the possibility that ultimately we are boundary-less.
- Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990) Full catastrophe living: Using wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. London: Piatkus
- Kretzchmann, S (2012) The Boundaries of Life and Death: A short film http://vimeo.com/40291524
- Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash