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Dialogues - Issue #1

The Field Beyond

Words by Karen Leason
Illustration by Camila Fudissaku

When boundaries both divide and connect, is it possible to be on both sides of the line at the same time?

The concept of boundary evokes an image of a hard line or guarded demarcation that keeps us on this side or the other side.The line defines our differences and creates a sense of identity.

Looking around, there are boundaries everywhere: borders, frontiers, river banks, forest edges, hedges, buildings, streets, pavements, the space between us, inside and outside.

We get our definition from our physical boundaries and our surroundings define us: the mountains and tower blocks forming our bones; the rivers, seas and streets flowing in our veins. We take on personal characteristics as expressions of the land through changes in season as we age.

There is comfort and security in being able to define ourselves clearly, stating who we are and who we are not. Having a foot in more than one camp is often seen as undecided, ambivalent, or confused. But what if we could be confident and shy, angry and loving, old and young, wrong and right, at home and in a strange place, all at the same time? What would it feel like to be both perfect and imperfect?

Perhaps we can experiment with being on both sides of the divide, feeling the texture of the roughness, the uneasiness of choices or the expansion of our senses. In this place of possibilities is there greater freedom or more personal responsibility?

When boundaries both divide and connect, is it possible to be on both sides of the line at the same time? Where the boundaries and borders are both divisions and connections we experience richness and complexity, diversity, time, fruition, continuity, home. There is nowhere else to go. I can keep one foot firmly in the land of youthful ignorance and broken parts and the other foot in this new world exploring the possibility that I am not all wrong, perhaps even right. Broken and whole, ignorant and wise.

With this new possibility opening up, I am aware there is a doorway beckoning me to go through, to leave behind past suffering and bring both feet together, pointing toward perfection only. I suspect, however, this is a false door promising the clarity of one position only, being in one camp again.

I prefer to dilly dally in no woman’s land, the land that includes boundaries and welcomes complexity and feels more alive, where you can be you and I can be me. The mountains and streams, buildings and streets are my body but we are connected by the earth under our feet and the sky surrounding us.

As the popular 13th-century Persian poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī wrote many years ago: “Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.”

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