Monday, December 5, 2011
A World Without Lines
See that line? That yellow rope? That boundary drawn for the express purpose of keeping people away from touching the extremely expensive, one of a kind trains? If you look closely, you can just see the speculative look on my son's face. Just seconds after I snapped this picture, Zane was underneath that yellow rope, heading for that train. Without my husband's well-timed ankle grab, things would not have ended well.
My kid is generally a well-behaved child, interested in anything and everything around him. He says "Yes, ma'am." He follows most rules and routines. Yet when he sees a "line" of any kind, any sort of barrier, it's an open invitation. His eyes positively light up at the challenge. It is almost physically impossible for him to refrain from at least attempting to move beyond any sort of physical boundary. My sister-in-law told us a story once about how she put up one of those gates to keep Zane in the living room. Zane sat there in front of the gate, just staring at it. Then he stood up, grabbed the gate and started rocking with it, until the gate fell down. At the time, I marveled at my child being smart enough to figure out how to get the gate down. Now I wonder.
There are very definitely some boundaries that are not supposed to be crossed, no matter how challenging they may be. There's a reason that there's a gate around Fort Knox, for example. Some doors are locked because what is behind them is dangerous. I would hope that Zane will understand that very fine distinction, and so far he seems to hear us when we tell him that he might get hurt. And yet...
Galileo(or was it Copernicus?) was shown the boundary, established by the Church, that said the sun rotated around the earth. He ignored that boundary, and discovered that the earth went around the sun instead. The first surgeon ignored the boundaries of his time, which did not allow for opening up the body to look for illness. The first explorers of the world ignored the conventional wisdom that said the world was flat. Every 'first', every creator, every explorer, every theorist, pushed past a boundary to find something new. In these cases, not recognizing a boundary led to something wonderful. That is what I would hope for my son's future; that he see boundaries as something to push over and move past. At least, those boundaries which are not going to get him arrested.
There are lots of 'boundaries' in our lives, and most of them, like 'don't stick your finger in an electrical outlet', are there for a good reason. But what if we ignored some of those established boundaries? the ones that seem arbitrary and archaic. Useless. When those boundaries are breached, it seems almost mystical. Maybe if we listen to that voice inside us that says "Ignore this boundary" on occasion, maybe something miraculous will come of it.
Today, I am going to be daring and push past an established boundary. I am not sure what it will be, or how grand my gesture will be. Maybe I'll spend the day saying exactly what I think. Or maybe I'll just loudly fart in a public place. It'll depend on what I have for lunch.