Writer and musician Kevin Coyne once advised that we should "Never test the depth of the water with both feet." Lois Judson made another very interesting observation concerning boundaries in a story entitled "I Am Not a Sex Goddess", which appeared in The Sun magazine in January, 2009 when she wrote that "Good fences make good neighbors, but bad boundaries make for more interesting conversations."
The accompanying photo for this article is one I took recently at the site of the Kennedy assassination in Dallas, Texas. The fence shown in the photo is the one in place at the top of the infamous grassy-knoll. It seems clear that in our daily encounter with life, that lines and boundaries of one sort or another confront us every day. The extent of some of these boundaries, though, are at first somewhat unclear much like the boundary described by Mr. Coyne.
We know intuitively there is something solid somewhere down there in the water; a solid boundary somewhere beneath our feet. We may just not be able to clearly see it. And then there are those other kinds of boundaries that may contain giant gaps in them. The line and boundary itself is still there but there is also room for things and for perhaps people too, to slip right through.
Lines and boundaries, then, can and do often serve to intentionally separate us from one another. And sometimes that’s exactly what we want. But at other times certain lines and boundaries amount to little more than feeble and ineffective attempts on our part to hide something from view. Even if the fence or boundary is actually there, we’re aware that just a small gap or gaps in that boundary will allow someone or something relatively easy passage past it.
Whenever that is the case, as Ms. Judson noted in her magazine story, the interest level of someone standing outside the boundary can rise substantially. They’ve seen something there which draws their attention. Sometimes the only thing that’s actually visible, of course, is just that gap in the fence. The burble and noise that is everyday life may suggest to us that we always must construct such a sturdy boundary that no one can see over it, or perhaps manage to scale it.
On the other hand, there is at the same time within us an understanding that we may not always want to be left entirely alone. At certain times we probably all want to be pursued, at least to some extent, by something that we may view as larger than ourselves. And as it turns out, we’re often not too picky under those particular circumstances.
The reason why this is, is that we may be, at least in the metaphorical sense, desirous of encountering and dealing with things involving a certain and acceptable amount of danger, a sort of fame, the attention of another person, the possibility of obtaining wealth beyond our imagination, perhaps – or possibly even a greater knowledge of God.
What sort of boundaries do you naturally build around yourself? Do you sometimes fence off your world so tightly and completely that it is virtually impossible for anyone to ever enter in? Do your boundaries have that indeterminable depth to them that causes others to shy away? Or is the fence which you’ve constructed one which perhaps contains just a small crack; one that may have been purposely left open in order to allow the world at large the opportunity to take a peek inside?