For as long as I can remember,
I have shaped my life based on a known edge.
When I was younger and more innocent than
now, I lived close to this edge and enjoyed
the play that occurred while standing upon
Most people live far from the edge, for
the edge is unpredictable and risky. The
great majority of people value safety and
comfort over risk and possible rewards.
And though people like to place themselves
far from the known edge, people love to
watch others dance upon it and the more
these other people risk, the more exciting
it is for the safe and secure observer.
The edge can be described as everything
and anything that cuts down the middle between
what we hope for and what we fear. When
I was a boy, I loved living on the edge
of peoples idea of appropriate behavior.
I tried very hard to find where that edge
was for most people and then play around
that edge with my words and actions. I enjoyed
watching peoples reactions and would
further play off of them. But within my
own self, this could be described as the
edge of my hope for the acceptance of others
and my fear of their possible rejection.
Edges are exciting because there is always
the risk of losing whatever it is that plays
upon its borders, and if we can walk
away unscratched and unscathed, then the
fear of the edge itself, as well as the
darkness that lives on its less desirable
side, has less power over our lives. In
fact then, the border of the known edge
changes and we can walk more freely around
the intersection of our hopes and fears
as a result.
One of our greatest shared fears as humans
is the fear of losing respectability. We
spend our entire lives building up a known
persona and whether or not we actually believe
in our own respectability, what others
believe about us seems to be of much greater
Our professions, our friendships, our spouses,
our clothes, cars and place of residence
all support this persona that we choose
to show to the world. Losing that persona
that we invest the majority of our lives
supporting and protecting is a major fear
that we all hold within our minds, yet few
of us are aware of. If mentioned, it is
quickly dismissed as being normal,
and so it is.
The edge of the fear of loss of respectability
and the hope fore further gains within it
is almost completely unknown because so
few will risk approaching its borders.
Thus, the reality show in which participants
risk losing face in the hopes of some financial
or personal reward have become extremely
popular. We experience a small amount of
their excitement while risking nothing ourselves.
A more consequential example would be the
ability to speak out for or against an obvious
wrong when the majority remains silent.
Or perhaps challenging the general consensus
when its path becomes dangerous or
Like the courageous mother bird who leaves
her chicks vulnerable while she searches
for much needed food, life demands that
we sometimes must risk our comfort and security,
though most of us would always choose otherwise.
We must sometimes risk losing face, losing
respect and admiration, as well as the love
and support of those people closest to us
in order to approach the known edge and
further balance ourselves in relation to
We must sometimes risk the financial security
that our jobs give us in order to approach
the possibility of a balanced mind and thus,
a further step towards happiness. We must
be willing to let go of the security of
being in a relationship, should that relationship
become unhealthy and broken beyond repair.
Fear of the social or familial implications
should not discourage us from the difficult
choice of approaching the edge and regaining
the possibility of a healthy, balanced life.
What are our hopes and fears? Where does
the edge fall between them? And most importantly:
Where do we live in relation to this edge?
These are not easy questions to answer,
not for myself, nor the majority of people
living today or in days past. But a quick
look at our most influential heroes shows
us that our ability to live on the edge
is a vital and important aspect of humanitys
ability to proceed in a way that parallels
our natural origins.
The edge is the intersection of the dual
nature of reality, and should we aspire
to live balanced lives, it is vital that
we continue to place ourselves there. With
one foot firmly placed in either side, the
edge becomes surprisingly peaceful. Heroes
like Jesus, Gandhi and the Buddha lived
incredibly peaceful lives within the eye
of the storms that raged around them.
The Buddhas Middle Way is indeed
a call to live life on the edge of two extremes,
as is Gandhis path to balancing society
through non-violent, civil disobedience.
The love and forgiveness Jesus had for his
persecutors even as they were killing him
is the ultimate example of life lived on
the edge, but we do not have to suffer such
fates to learn from his sacrifice.
We have all been in situations wherein
we chose to runaway rather than face a known
fear. Likewise, we have all experienced
that amazing feeling of freedom when a fear
was approached and dispelled. Unfortunately,
the large majority of us live our lives
as though we are asleep. We build routines
to attach ourselves and pay little heed
to the true reality we have build our lives
insulating ourselves from.
Hopes are now considered distant dreams
instead of the constant and omnipotent force
they have in our daily decisions. Fear have
now been narrowed down to standard, socially
accepted fears such as a fear of heights
or the fear of large crowds. But fears help
us choose which clothes to wear, what foods
to eat, where we choose to live and who
we choose to live with.
Before we are ever to approach the edge,
we must first identify its two opposing
landscapes. We must become students unto
ourselves and take the risk of complete
honesty, should we be able to see our personal
hopes and fears clearly. And in the process,
we will find ourselves already closer to
the edge, closer to this middle and its
promise of peace.