Tag Archive: personal life

Possibilities in Purple

So today I was in the middle of writing in my journal when my pen ran out of ink.  (Yes, I still journal longhand.  :)  )  I grabbed a replacement pen out of my pen/marker/highlighter drawer, did the scribble-to-get-it-started thing, and went back to my writing – only to be stopped in my strokes.  Not only was the new pen the same brand as the old, but it was also from the same package.  And yet.  The pens wrote in noticeably different shades of purple.

Such a silly little thing, I know.  But it got me to thinking.  I was so surprised when my two pens wrote differently.  After all, they came from the same store, the same company, the same package.  And I wonder how many times we do this to each other.  “Oh,” we think.  “You share my religion, my class, my gender, my race, my [fill-in-the-blank], therefore you must think and feel the same way I do.”

I’m not saying there’s no truth in this at all.  I often do have more in common with liberal American women than with, say, conservative Arabic men.  But I think the assumptions are dangerous.  Both that someone will-of-course agree with me, and that they of-course-will-not.

So maybe I will try to let go of those expectations for a while.  Maybe I can be open to allowing the people around me be whoever they are, regardless of the snap judgments I make based on how they look or sound.  And maybe, just maybe, if I can do that?  Maybe something magical can happen.


Lately I’ve been thinking about boundaries.  I live at the intersection of three cities and two counties.  If you walk out my front door and cross the street, you’ll find yourself in the same county, but a different city.  If you walk half a block north you cross into yet another city, this time in another county.  And I’m in the Kansas City metro, so I cross state lines on a regular basis.

I am fascinated by how things change by the simple drawing of an imaginary line.  Sometimes the changes are drastic, sometimes almost imperceptible; but they’re always there.

Recently my family visited and we drove past a house for sale.  My dad wondered aloud what was wrong with a house for it to be priced so low.  I asked him which side of the street it was on.  He was confused – why should that matter?  But I explained that on the North side of the street, that may be an acceptable price for a decent house.  On the South, he would be right to wonder what was wrong with it for it to be so affordable.  But you wouldn’t know that unless you knew that.  In my part of town, the differences aren’t so obvious at the borders.

Earlier this week, we got our first real snow of the season.  The east side of our street was cleared almost a full half a day before the west (the side I’m on).  Why?  Different cities, different schedules.  I always feel like I should be able to turn that into some great metaphor or powerful epiphany.  Usually, however, I simply sigh and give thanks that I don’t have to leave the house yet.

Some days I wish I had hard and fast boundaries.  I wish I could always know which side of the street will be cleared and when.  I want to be forceful, fast, firm.  Formidable.  And other strong words from the front half of the alphabet.

But I’m not.

My boundaries are mutable.  They’re changeable and often situational.  But you know what?  That doesn’t make them invalid, artificial, or insincere.  It doesn’t mean I am crazy or spiteful or even random for enforcing them.  My boundaries are informed by tradition, reason, experience, my spiritual practice, and intuition.  (Thank you John Wesley +1.  I truly am the sum of my experiences thus far.)  And surely informed boundaries must be, by their very nature, changeable.

So perhaps I should stop trying to build and enforce boundaries the way I’m told they “should” be.  Boundaries that I declare to be immutable, but that then often prove to be unsuitable or that I grow out of ….  and that inevitably end up winding back around to bite me in the ass.

As easy as it is to feel I am oh-so-alone in my angst, I figure I’m not the only one who deals with this.  So let me be the one to tell you:  We’re not flighty or flakey.  We’re not weak.  And we are certainly not undeserving of having our boundaries respected and honored.

So let’s stop putting our energy into trying to fix what others tell us is wrong with us.  Let’s stop trying to be any number of things we’re not.  Let’s stop expending so much energy trying to build someone else’s boundaries as our own.  Instead, maybe it’s time we put our energy into accepting and living our boundaries well.  Setting them with integrity, enforcing them with gentle surety, and allowing them to grow and change as we do.

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