On this second-to-last day of 2011, I've been reflecting and have decided to revisit this blog, which I began writing in July of 2004.
While many things have changed during that period of time, some thoughts are just as relevent now as they were back then.
With that introduction, I would like to share a post I originally wrote on August 12, 2004. Thanks to Gail (who is in my current Saturday master mind group) for the lunch inspiration back then that continues to this day. Also thanks to Bruce, another of the Saturday master minders, for his insight in the comment he shared back then.
At lunch with my friend Gail today I was reminded about how important it is for me to be me. That might sound funny, but I've been struggling with what Gail helped me see to be a paradox: two seemingly conflicting views, each of which I hold sacred.
Here it is in a nutshell: I'm finding myself drawn to living my life on the edge, or, as my friend Susie says, out on a limb. When I looked up the definition of "edge," it fits so well with what I'm feeling drawn to. Here are some definitions:
A thin, sharpened side, as of the blade of a cutting instrument.
The degree of sharpness of a cutting blade.
A penetrating, incisive quality.
A slight but noticeable sharpness or harshness: His voice had an edge to it.
Keenness, as of desire or enjoyment; zest: The brisk walk gave an edge to my appetite.
The line of intersection of two surfaces: the edge of a brick; the table's rounded edges.
A rim or brink: the edge of a cliff.
The point at which something is likely to begin: on the edge of war.
The area or part away from the middle; an extremity: lifted the carpet's edge.
A dividing line; a border: a house on the edge of town. See Synonyms at border.
A margin of superiority; an advantage: a slight edge over the opposition.
A provocative or discomforting quality, as from audacity or innovativeness: “Over all, the show will have a grittier edge” (Constance C.R. White).
The other side of my paradox is wanting to hold space for people wherever they are - to accept wherever their level of understanding allows them to be. I sense that I may be making people wrong if I encourage them to come closer to the edge when they are perfectly content living in the middle. I don't want to push my own agenda, so I don't say what I feel drawn to say, and I pull back - put up and shut up - or worry about what others think of me, or wonder if I've said too much.
As Gail reminded me today, edges can be sharp - and if you live on the edge, you run the risk of getting cut.
But I'm also reminded that there probably are far fewer rules for living on the edge because far fewer people have been there to offer their experience or advice. When we're living on the edge, we make an agreement to make up the rules as we go - to roll with the punches, to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again, but with new determination, and new avenues to explore. There are no promises that anything is going to be right or perfect or successful when you're living on the edge, only that you have a personal stake in the outcome because you're creating it.
So what's the answer to the paradox question? Can you hold two seemingly contradictory beliefs sacred? Time will tell for me. But the clarity I gained from having this conversation is priceless. Thanks for lunch, Gail - and thanks for the food for thought.
I love blogging for so many reasons, not the least of which is the dialogue it can create. So here was a comment from Bruce on that same post from August of 2004.
Allow me to offer this observation: living on the edge and pulling people out of their comfort zone toward the edge are quite compatible. The magic ingredient that makes the two mix together is passion. People are naturally drawn to your passion, Jodee. I don't have to share your passion initially, only your interest. It is the nature of the human spirit to accept a passionate person as a leader, and seek to emulate that person. Name leaders in any field of knowledge. Name leaders in history. Were any of them devoid of passion? I don't think so.
I prefer to visualize "the edge" as a a merry-go-round, the kind you could once find near every country school house. Some people are content to sit in the middle. Some venture out to the mid-range of the circle and hang on for dear life. The truly brave souls grip the pipes on the perimeter and extend their bodies beyond the "edge" of the circle. Passion is what makes it spin. If you are content to sit exactly in the middle, the centrifugal force of passion has very little effect on you. But once you venture out even a little bit from center, you begin to feel drawn to the edge. One other point: Those on the edge of the spinning disk actually get to travel the longest distance. Those in the center truly go nowhere.
Ah ... dialogue at its finest. Let's create many more opportunities to share our thoughts and explore the possibilities together in 2012. Are you content to live 'in the center," as Bruce points out? Nothing wrong with that. Or are you wanting to experience the "hanging on for dear life" perspective from the edge? By allowing yourself to at least consider all the perspectives, you will attract a wider variety of ideas and people into your world.
Let's venture out together.
Happy New Year!