Crawdaddy's Philosophy Cafe for the month of April was fun and eye-opening, as they tend to be! As usual, everyone relayed a personal story in which the archetype of “boundary” was prevalent, and may I say, as the cafes proceed, our philosophers get bolder and their stories more colorful. They are quite often personally revealing and on occasion frightening. I admire and applaud everyone’s bravery, because this direct honesty results in everyone’s benefit. Of course, the stories themselves remain confidential to the group, but here are the personal definitions of boundary that came out of the individual stories (we never use hypotheticals). A boundary is...
1. Something personally defined that can be changed.
2. A personal constraint or comfort zone that can be expanded with effort and time.
3. A reasonably fixed standard to adhere to in matters of intimacy, in order to avoid discomfort.
4. A sense of self-respect and responsibility in how one lives.
5. A limit of what you can tolerate in another.
6. A loving recognition of someone else’s changing boundaries.
7. Ideal lines of personal protection that are very hard to maintain.
8. A process of personal interaction between two people that can involve significant tension and manipulation
9. Something created and offered up by the unconscious to protect you when your conscious self is not able to.
With these fresh definitions backed up by real life stories, we began our mind jam, wondering what in the world a boundary really might be. I highlighted certain key phrases in the definitions above and passed the sheet out to the group to spark clues. Here is some of what came out of our conversation:
Boundaries define our differences. They must be “violated” (breached) in order to be defined.
Boundaries are sometimes maintained in rigid fashion. At the other end of the spectrum, they can be quite flexible, pliable, even permeable like membranes. Those with rigid boundaries tend to see the world (or at least the particular situation involved) as black and white. Those with flexible boundaries tend to be more open-minded and see the world as fluid and complex.
Boundaries are an energetic process of two people, things or ideals working against one another.
Boundaries take a lot of energy to maintain. Sometimes they are self-imposed, but many times they are externally applied by other individuals, peer or authority pressure, cultural traditions, or group beliefs.
Boundaries define where our fear begins. They can be both restricting and freeing. They dare us to cross forbidden lines. They are a jumping-off point. They can inspire us into action or cause us to freeze.
In a deep psychological or metaphysical sense, they are a dividing line between two worlds, such as the conscious and unconscious self. They determine what kind of energy or information can travel back and forth between worlds. They act as a threshold or horizon.
Boundaries are never a place where we can stay for long without suffering. We must eventually cross them into new territory, or retreat back into safety.
You are your boundaries.
The Phoenix Philosophers, as I am starting to call them, definitely created some conversational art on the spot! If you are ever in Phoenix on the First Friday of the month, you should join us.
Next Café is May 7th and overflow May 8.