“The space between
The tears we cry
Is the laughter keeps us coming back for more”
– Dave Matthews
Lately I’ve been intrigued by edges, by the spaces between one thing and another. They can often be places of great paradox and deep creativity.
In many of the Big Debates of our culture – pro choice vs. pro life, Israel vs. Palestine, even the ones about food, where I’ve already chosen a vegetarian lifestyle for myself – I have remained independent. I don’t choose a side because I’m often undecided; I can see pros and cons for both sides of most issues.
I like it there in the grey area between two opposing ideas, where new alternatives are sparked. While having “situational ethics” is often intended as an insult, I find it to be a realistic way of moving through a constantly-changing world. An example: I don’t steal, yet if my children were starving and I could find no other options, you bet I would swipe some food for them, probably from a big supermarket where there is plenty available. Most of the time the choices aren’t so extreme, but it still seems to me that being flexible and not locked into one particular world view allows me to make a more authentic assessment based on what is actually going on in each moment.
In permaculture, edges are known to be places of rich biodiversity. Where a meadow meets the forest, or where the rocky shoreline meets the ocean, there is a place that is not one thing nor the other, but contains elements of both. This is where you find plants and creatures who are a bit adventurous, flexible in their needs, ready for growth and expansion.
The notion of the “edge” in yoga practice is the place where dynamic tension dances. When applied to a stretch, the edge is the place where you’re pushing your comfort zone just a bit. You’re not stretching too far or using force, which would be harmful, nor timidly stretching so little that you’re barely challenging yourself. Your edge is an interface between where you are and where you’re going, and is a place of great learning. Your edge is where you can lean into a stretch and coax your body toward flexibility.
Knowing where the edges of your self meet the rest of the world is valuable. Otherwise you have no boundaries, and will be caught up in everything that goes on around you, spun by the tides of random energies. This is especially key for those of us who are empaths. We tend to pick up on the feelings of others and can have a hard time figuring out which emotions are truly our own.
“When we don’t know where our edges are, everything is equally important, and equally unimportant. We feel like we have to do everything and please everybody. Or we withdraw into lethargy and paralysis. Either way, we lose ourselves inside the overwhelm.” – Justine Musk
Our own edges are often in motion, and this is a good thing. While we want to create healthy boundaries, we don’t want to become isolated inside our own little bubble, stuck in our habits, comfortable but stale.
In everyday life, you can use the notion of your edge to gently encourage yourself to keep growing, learning, and moving towards your dreams. Play with your edges, your boundaries, the outer limits of comfort where you step off into a new adventure. Relax your beliefs a bit, open your mind, and let paradox flow in. Isn’t it more valuable to learn new things than to seek experiences that confirm what you think you already know?
My favorite edge space to explore recently is the space between sleep and waking, or waking and sleep. It’s that liminal space you inhabit when drifting off to sleep or awakening from dreams. In this ever-shifting boundary between one type consciousness and another, much magick awaits. I drop my intentions into the mist, letting images ebb and flow. I watch for what new manifestations might appear in my waking life. The results are often surprising.