The other day I left my house late for a meeting, I had got the time wrong. There are two routes to the main road. One of them is along country roads with a lovely descent from a high point showing a vista of possibilities – and an unpredictable busy railway crossing which can offer as long a wait as 15 minutes. The other route is along a winding slightly busier road next to forests and through a dreary little town with irritating speed humps and roundabouts. Of late I find myself taking the unpredictable route more and more often, even when time is tight. There is a turning which is critical to which route I follow and when I got there on this day when I was late, I unhesitatingly took the unpredictable route. On this occasion as I approached the crossing, breath in my mouth, the barriers were open and I sailed through, and the adrenaline rush of terror that I would be even later than I was going to be, subsided.
So what is that all about? I reflected on my odd choice. And now I reflect on it again, realising that this same choice for the same journey happened three times last week, and on a fourth occasion, when I had to take a slightly different route, the oil lamp came on just to ensure that my heart would still be in my mouth.
I don’t like predictability. In fact, it’s not too extreme a statement to say – I have an aversion to predictability. And – within limits – I will always choose the route that makes my heart leap over the dull route that affords reliability. There is also a competitive element in there. Even if I have to wait the longest possible 15 minutes, can I still rise to the challenge and be on time (without getting a speeding ticket)? Will the roads be clear in the busy town at the other end? Can I find a way through the traffic and arrive unflustered? I would rather that there was a (known?) challenge than no challenge. This keeps me on my edge.
I grew up near the coast in Southern California. That was an edge with a horizon beyond the line of sight.
I need to have an edge. I think we all do – and yet, sitting with people, I sometimes feel – where is their edge? where is our edge? where is the edge in this conversation?’ Is it just that I am failing to connect with it, or are they disconnected from it? Is that an issue if they are apparently happy without it, and it is only me that feels an absence? I know I cannot provide good service if I am not near my edge. I am only truly alive when I am near my edge.
Writing on this blog has reconnected me with my edge. I’ve been interested to experience over the last few weeks how distant I’ve felt from my blog and I attribute that to two things – first, the requirement of completing an incredibly tedious piece of work, with lots of checklists and tick boxes, a piece of work which is ultimately meaningless but for various reasons, I must do it. This has deadened me, taken the creativity away, dulled my edge, and hangs over me like a dead weight. When it is finished, I hope I will feel free no matter what the outcome is. The second reason is an event where, in contrast, I am challenged and taken way over my edge. Associations, connections, memories, dreams are stirred up – and I am given one of my greatest challenges, one that seems to grow greater with age – the challenge of self-discipline and commitment embodied in my yoga practice. Wrestling with this is all-consuming so it is hard to find the resources to write.
So for now, what would interest me is to hear from some of you about where is your edge? And where do you find your greatest challenges, from which growth comes? And also, what takes you over your edge – and what happens then?