Living on the Edge
At lunch with my friend Gail today I was reminded about how important it is for me to be me. That might sound funny, but I've been struggling with what Gail helped me see to be a paradox: two seemingly conflicting views, each of which I hold sacred.
Here it is in a nutshell: I'm finding myself drawn to living my life on the edge, or, as my friend Susie says, out on a limb. When I looked up the definition of "edge," it fits so well with what I'm feeling drawn to. Here are some definitions:
A thin, sharpened side, as of the blade of a cutting instrument.
The degree of sharpness of a cutting blade.
A penetrating, incisive quality.
A slight but noticeable sharpness or harshness: His voice had an edge to it.
Keenness, as of desire or enjoyment; zest: The brisk walk gave an edge to my appetite.
The line of intersection of two surfaces: the edge of a brick; the table's rounded edges.
A rim or brink: the edge of a cliff.
The point at which something is likely to begin: on the edge of war.
The area or part away from the middle; an extremity: lifted the carpet's edge.
A dividing line; a border: a house on the edge of town. See Synonyms at border.
A margin of superiority; an advantage: a slight edge over the opposition.
A provocative or discomforting quality, as from audacity or innovativeness: “Over all, the show will have a grittier edge” (Constance C.R. White).
The other side of my paradox is wanting to hold space for people wherever they are - to accept wherever their level of understanding allows them to be. I sense that I may be making people wrong if I encourage them to come closer to the edge when they are perfectly content living in the middle. I don't want to push my own agenda, so I don't say what I feel drawn to say, and I pull back - put up and shut up - or worry about what others think of me, or wonder if I've said too much.
As Gail reminded me today, edges can be sharp - and if you live on the edge, you run the risk of getting cut.
But I'm also reminded that there probably are far fewer rules for living on the edge because far fewer people have been there to offer their experience or advice. When we're living on the edge, we make an agreement to make up the rules as we go - to roll with the punches, to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again, but with new determination, and new avenues to explore. There are no promises that anything is going to be right or perfect or successful when you're living on the edge, only that you have a personal stake in the outcome because you're creating it.
So what's the answer to the paradox question? Can you hold two seemingly contradictory beliefs sacred? Time will tell for me. But the clarity I gained from having this conversation is priceless. Thanks for lunch, Gail - and thanks for the food for thought.