The edge

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.

Bright beach, Southern California coastline - This beautiful picture is by Vanessa Hadady, please see her biography on the previous post

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?

This entry was posted in connections, dreams, Jung, Uncategorized, writing, blogging, yoga. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to The edge

  1. Chris says:

    Most people who know me reasonably well, but maybe not intimately, would say that I love predictability. Uncertainty unnerves me. And they’d be right. Events. appointments, travel plans, what I’m doing today, tomorrow, next week – I like to have them all pinned down. I hate sudden changes to what I thought was going to happen.

    But when faced with a deadline for completing a piece of work I always make the risky choice to leave it until the last minute. It’s as though I can only produce my best work if pushed to the edge by the thought of not being finished on time. Can anyone explain that to me? Mostly I’m pleased with what I do but sometimes I have thought with hindsight that I could have done better if I’d started earlier – even while knowing at a deeper level that starting earlier would not have produced the extra surge of driven creativity and insight that would have improved the end product.

    • karin says:

      Hi Chris,
      The short explanation about your last-minute approach to deadlines is you’re a Perceiving type not a Judging type! Though perhaps only slightly. You like to let your creative work evolve rather than be pinned down and it sounds like you enjoy the adrenaline of a last-minute rush! You also have a vision, being an Intuitive person. You like control and stability when it comes to life’s practical matters, but when it comes to your creative work, you prefer to let things unfold rather than be completely pinned down. I’ll stop there! I was trying to remember your Myers-Briggs type from years ago, I think actually Chris B may have done that work with you? I have no recollection of scores and how close they were etc. I have a sense the J and P might be quite close but maybe not? Hope that gives some context….

      • Chris says:

        Hi Karin, re Myers-Briggs I was recorded as an INTP although I know that I recorded almost equal scores on one of the elements – but can’t now remember which.

      • karin says:

        Yes, Chris, I remembered your profile. Think I told you I was sorting out papers – strangely and synchronously, found your team’s results in a box of unrelated stuff last night, no other paperwork from that time included! So yes, I have documentation to prove it!!

  2. Dody Jane says:

    Chris, I think many of us produce our best work when we are under the gun, so to speak. Procrastination is natural. I think what is unnatural is pacing yourself and working steadily. That is the HARD thing to learn. I do think you have to force yourself. Like forcing yourself to exercise.

    “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 ”

    Ah, Karen. You have perfectly described my own bloggy conundrum. I also have this need for growth. I think my edge is in conquering pursuits that intrigue me. I love to write, so I wrote and wrote. Lots of stories. I submitted all over and had five published. For some reason, this was, as Goldilocks like to say “Just Right,” it took “the edge” off. Now, while stories still come to me and I WANT to finish my two unfinished novels, the inner need is just not as strong.

    I also love to craft and make pretty things. I have tried to conquer knitting, sewing, doll making. My recent obsession has been a desire to learn Photoshop – I have been immersed in classes and every free minute is spent “making” things. I opened at Etsy shop for fun. But, I can feel that I am losing this edge as well, now that I know how to do it. I think it could safely be said about me that I am a jack of all trades and and a master of nothing. I find my obsessions and edges come and go more quickly these days – just like life, like the difference between childhood and adulthood.

    Yet, this is all okay. Like Chris, I am also a lover of predictability. I would most likely not take your route. I would worry too much about consequences. Please be careful, sweet Karen. My brother was killed 39 years ago at a railway crossing when crossing the closed barriers. Promise me that next time, you will wait and be late. Better late than never. I am full of cliches this morning!

    I love your blog and while I have been a bad commenter (this will be better now that I have conquered Photoshop!) I hope you will find your inner blogginess .

    • karin says:

      Hi Dody Jane,
      it is GREAT to see you here again! I had been wondering how you were and if things were ok, especially since it’s been so quiet on your own blog. Now I understand a bit more.
      There’s a lot in what you have written. First, I’d love to read your stories so please let me know how to find them. Your comment ‘I think my edge is in conquering pursuits that intrigue me’ is interesting. I don’t think my edge is about ‘conquering’ but I do think it is about what intrigues me. Maybe I am deceiving myself and maybe conquering is indeed part of it – I need to think more on that. I am quite clear though that my edge is to do with being in a place of uncertainty and surprise – and, most of all, discovery and learning. I love moments in my work when something unexpected happens, I like being on the edge of the chair and being in the moment with something hard and confusing and evolving. I was just reminded of a quote from the analyst Wilfred Bion who said, if there are not at times two frightened people in the room, we will only find out what everyone already knows.

      I know you are not a yoga person, but the reason yoga is so important to me is that it is a source of unending learning and understanding on all levels, increasing awareness – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. So there is always an edge there for me. It is not to do with conquering, it is to do with deepening – with discovery. And it is not something I could imagine ever feeling I’d finished with and so be ready to move on to the next interest…it is an all-encompassing study of life, it is simply living better and more fully.

      Moving on……to put your mind fully at rest – the railway crossing I allude to has barriers that come down a few minutes before a train is approaching. I would NEVER attempt to drive across it when the warning sounds came on and the barriers started to descend.

      I do hope you will come on here more often as your comments are always thought-provoking – and it’s a strange experience to have people disappear when your main/only link with them is virtual. I guess you know this from your own experience.

      Hoping the weather has not been too horrendous where you are, I think you’re not too far from where those dreadful storms were a couple weeks ago?

      Warm wishes

  3. Chris says:

    I also live with another, darker edge – the edge between normalcy and mental illness. My close friend of 30 years, with whom I share a house, is entering into what I believe to be the first step towards Alzheimer’s. She has difficulty with short and long term memory and can be easily confused in unfamiliar settings. She loses the thread in extended discussion. But some days she’s fine. So I track her as she wanders from one side to the other of her edge, never knowing whether the next time I speak to her it will be to the lively, talented, capable, creative, fun-loving person I have known for years or to someone who doesn’t realise that she’s asking me the same question that she has already asked me five times that morning. We spend time most days hunting for stuff that she has put carefully away so that she will not lose track of it. And I am becoming an expert at working out where those secret places might be. And since her approach to everything has always struck me as somewhat zany and uncontrolled, which has been an essential part of the balance in our friendship, there are misunderstandings. I sometimes pick up the ‘wrong’ person and react inappropriately which is resented. So it’s a blurred edge which moves. I find myself sometimes able to be the familiar friend and equal and at others turning into a caring mother figure – a role for which I am totally unsuited by instinct or experience. Karin suggested that edges create growth. In my case this one has forced me to act more gently, to be more patient and to live more for the day as we never know what tomorrow may bring or what demands it may make of us.

    • karin says:

      I appreciate your openness and caring precision in sharing this here, Chris, which is actually very brave. It has made me very conscious that some of the things I write, such as this one, might seem lacking in empathy – which is not my intention. Sometimes I think I lose the correct balance of challenge and support, and maybe overdo the challenge especially at this time. I am aware that some people are going through some very difficult times, and my stuff is really pretty minor in comparison. So apologies to anyone who reads this and has felt not helped by what I’ve written.

      • Chris says:

        Hi Karin,

        Certainly from my point of view there is no need for you to apologise. At different times of our lives we are caught up with different things. The edges I have faced in my life so far were all to do with me and my work or the community interests and hobbies I have in that phase of life jokingly called retirement. This edge is a much bigger one, that puts the others into perspective as much because of the growth in me resulting from it as because of its intrinsic problems and challenges. My earlier edges, I realise, helped me understand myself but did not basically change me. This one is changing me and for the better.

  4. Anne Sherry says:


    Responding to your blog, or anyone’s for that matter, must be ccajoling me towards a personal edge – like the concept,

    • karin says:

      I was pretty gob-smacked – and really pleased – to see you here. I’m glad the concept struck a chord of interest. I know you probably won’t want to say more but….it would be so interesting to hear more about why responding to a blog takes you towards a personal edge. I know others would find this fascinating and useful.
      Hoping all is going well with you and sending warm wishes,

      • Anne Sherry says:

        As persuasive as ever! And yes good to be back in touch.
        Reasons for being wary of blogs: fear of being swamped (though pleased I had control of entry into your site rather than the site
        taking over my inbox); life choice not to be a technology-slave; no desire or personal need to ‘be out there’; preference for more intimate interactions. This said I’ve enjoyed your past postings and am appreciating the comments on this one. So …. who knows? Maybe I’m becoming a convert.
        Best wishes,

      • karin says:

        Hi Anne
        Thanks for elaborating. I completely understand the fear of being swamped, I remember that website you told me about theat completely clogged up your inbox. I also strongly empathise with your desire not to be a technology-slave. On the ‘out there’ front, I’ve found the blog dialogues (here and elsewhere) take me further in here, at the same time connecting me and others on themes of mutual interest. More intimate interactions can be a parallel process, and the two can interact – only if wanted of course!!
        Will send you an e-mail soon,

  5. Charlotte says:

    The last time I read your blog you were musing while walking – now I find you driving! Of course christian belief often uses the metaphor of life as a journey, the path of which is unknown to us but controlled by God. Unpredictability in our life is tempered by the belief that good things will come along, thanks to His power. I have found this to be true in my experience and whilst I, like you, need a certain degree of change and chance I am frequently reassured by the ‘rightness’ of things which come along. The only time I have driven with you was at night on the A14 when you drove with headlights permanently dipped, limiting your field of vision considerably, I felt. But then perhaps that is my preference for having a longer view ahead and not risking any last minute surprises! Drive carefully, Karin.

  6. karin says:

    Hi Charlotte – I prefer walking to driving any day, if the truth be known. Clearly my post has alarmed people about my driving which is interesting and unintentional! I feel a personal need to reassure everyone on this topic (interesting to note my own discomfort and concern!).
    I am not sure what you mean about headlights dipped, I think you mean I didn’t have my brights on that night we drove to Bury on the A14, since I did have normal headlights on (just in case others think I was driving with sidelights or none!!). This is because I am sometimes blinded by people driving with their brights on behind me, and I don’t want to cause this discomfort/risk to others – and I don’t feel the need for brights on an already partially illuminated road. Interesting metaphors though – and now wondering, do I need/want a longer view ahead? I think I am looking to live in the now (without incurring huge risk) and see what comes to light as I come closer to it. This is because I share your feeling about, more often than not, the rightness of things that come along.
    Thank you, Charlotte – will think more on this!

  7. Vanessa says:

    Thank you Karin for your lovely thoughts, meditations, and writings.

  8. Stephen says:

    I think living on the edge is an interesting concept and of course one person’s edge is another person’s safety zone. I have a friend who says that if you’re not on the edge of life then you’re taking up too much space. I don’t think I live on the edge and do wonder if I should have sold insurance or taken up a role in the risk assement industry however others view my life as one of complete risk.
    Do whatever makes you happy!

    • Karin says:

      Hi Steve, I apologised in advance for the anticipated delay in commenting on your comment which I do see as a link to my next post, if I can write it….I cannot see how others see your life as one of complete risk but, as you say, it’s all relative. Maybe it’s the hot air ballooning!

  9. The only thing with edges is…you can get cut off – you explore them and think you’re safe, but suddenly you find you are on your own, with no way back. It reminds me of a beach we used to go to when I was a child. Sometimes we stayed a bit too long and had to panic as we waded back through the incoming tide. You risk a lot when you explore edges, but it’s essential to keep doing it to grow as a person. On a different note, I love the way our garden melts into ‘our’ secret woodland, especially at this time of year with the cow parsley frothing all around. The edges are blurred and in the half-light it’s as if the garden dreams.

    • Good points about edges, Tricia, and very timely too. Yes, as you say, you are exploring and you don’t realise the risks around the edge. Sometimes these can be greater than you anticipate. Blurry edges are inviting but you can end up in a bad place if you let yourself be seduced. I love your image ‘as if the garden dreams’. Thank you.

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