Human beings have an ambivalent relationship to boundaries.
Who really wants to be told what to do? Life’s filled with limits, the unfair teacher, the red light when you’re in a rush, the alarm clock going off in the morning. There’s no escape. Yet, we yearn to break free.
We’re surrounded by boundaries, and yet they often define us as well. Think about the body that you were born into. It’s a boundary. Or, the family, your mother, father, siblings—all boundaries. You can try to adopt a new parent, but your Dad will always be your Dad, just like your body will always be your body, and the era that you are born into will never be another. We are defined by limits. And, yet our minds soar to something limitless.
This dynamic between what we are and what we yearn to be can make for unhappiness or be the source of incredible creativity. Eric Fromm tells us that this is the great existential challenge of modern life.
Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve and from which he cannot escape. (Fromm, Psychoanalysis and Religion)
Perhaps, just perhaps, there’s magic in embracing what we can’t escape.
Can living within our boundaries, open us to something bigger?
Consider a mindset that moves through life’s limits to the essence behind it all. Consider a prayer or meditation that puts you in touch with your limits for the purpose of transcending them.
A Useful Spirituality:
Look at your feet, legs, abdomen, stomach, chest, arms, face, and head. And, find gratitude in what you have been given. In some ways you are defined by these features that are yours alone. Now, think about the people that you love. Find thanksgiving in who they are and what, if anything, they do for you each and every day. Accept that there are flaws in your body, your family and yourself, and send loving kindness to each and every boundary that helps to define part of your life. Next, think about those around you who are burdened by their own boundaries, sickness, a bad marriage, a difficult child, a financial breakdown. Allow a feeling of healing to extend from you to them, and in turn to others in the world who may be broken. Feel healing energy flow into your body, and in turn project it back to the world. Finally allow your imagination to project back into the past and forward into the future. Break these boundaries for a moment to provide hope to those before and those after. Breathe deeply, and let the imagination’s moment with something eternal stay a bit longer in this earth bounded body. And then come back to the present and continue your day. May the many boundaries that define you bring joy, meaning and mission. May they serve as a vehicle to something eternal, and beyond mere mortal chains.
We may be small, limited creatures. But, boy can we soar.