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December 19th, 2018

When we think of a border or a boundary, we are more likely to think of a wall, a chain-link fence or something equally obvious and foreboding to surmount.  But borders and boundaries come in all sorts of  constitutions and grades of substance.


We might for a moment think about the surface of water in a glass.  This surface represents a kind of border between the wet part of the glass and the dry part.  But this border has some characteristics that are far more interesting than a standard wall or fence.  If we fill the glass to the very top and then continue to add miniscule portions of water, this border will bulge up on the rim of the glass.  This is simply the phenomenon of surface tension, and when too much pressure is applied, it will break and begin to spill over.   This doesn’t seem like much of a border or boundary, but only if our definition of a border is preoccupied with impenetrability.


If we think of borders or boundaries less as fortified entities and more like basic demarcations that we might want to deal with more wisely, then the seemingly pathetic boundary of the meniscus formed by water’s surface tension offers more to contemplate and reveals different perspectives for strategy.


We need only think of one of the innumerable bugs that uses the delicate force of surface tension to it’s benefit.  Many have evolved to walk on water and they achieve this by delicately working with the boundary created by water’s surface tension.


We might imagine such little buggers, if they could be questioned about the nature of their relationship with the surface of water would not bash the border for being weak, but would extol the opportunity present by respecting how delicate such a border is.


We might extrapolate this notion into other parts of our life and think about what borders we constantly barge through and ruin as opposed to delicately pressing against such borders, moving them and changing the configurations we find ourselves in without damaging such boundaries. 


The boundaries of interpersonal relationships might come to mind.  Just about all such boundaries can be gently moved so that we can get along together without truncating our personalities, but if we act unabashed with little respect for the realities of such boundaries, then instead of moving such boundaries, we might ruin them and create unnecessary problems for ourselves.


Such delicately managed boundaries might even be good representations of limits within our own selves, limits that we can push to become more capable, or limits that we can harmfully destroy.  Perhaps in some circumstances this is exactly what we want, but in other cases, if we want to preserve something without making a mess, but still change the way things are arranged, we might do best to be a little more thoughtful about using a more patient and delicate touch.

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