boundaryless lessons from rural Canada?

How do you know you’re not cutting your neighbour’s grass?

Travelling through rural Canada I notice properties don’t have boundaries. At least not visible ones. There are no walls, fences or even shrubs to mark the limits of one property, or to mark out the boundary with another.

Maybe it’s to do with space? When you have the large amounts of land they do here, maybe the space itself removes a need for boundary? Maybe the land is forgiving, so the people become so too?

In life, we tend to create boundaries for safety; to keep out potential intruders into our personal space. Silence is one of our best employed boundaries; keeping others out. Or, we create boundaries of belonging; tribes and groups that provide safety against threat from other tribes.

Maybe it’s the very marking out of where you stop and I begin, that creates the boundary between us? Be it between groups or individuals.

Yet in relationships of all sorts, we mark out our territory, then check with the other person whether it is safe to proceed. An office door – a polite knock. A first date – holding hands. A bag on the neighbouring train seat – permission to sit down.

I wonder how it would be for us to give each other all the space these Canadian home owners do? And if we did, whether our relationships would also become boundaryless?  A land where there is space. Space to be different, space to be free, space for autonomy, space to have purpose, space for compassion and humanity? Space for each other?

personal space

personal_space

Yesterday I walked up a busy Edgware Road.  I was walking quickly to get a train from Paddington and the pavement was thronging with commuters, shoppers and locals frequenting the many Lebanese eateries.

In front of me was a lady carrying a heavy shopping bag on her left arm.  The arm was hooked double to support the seemingly weighty contents.  Her right arm was projected out, away from her body at 45 degrees, presumably as a counter balance.  The counter balancing arm was obstructing my path and frustratingly making it difficult for me to slip by.

After a few seconds, I stepped out into a space to overtake and nearly went head over heels as a fellow pedestrian walking in the opposite direction was tugging a wheelie case that had escaped my attention.

I suddenly became aware of our personal space.  My space and that of those around me. The space we each occupy, not only with our physical bodies, but also with our chattels, our possessions, our accoutrements.

I wonder how often we notice when we invade others space, or when we cause them to divert?

This wondering returned twenty minutes later when a commuter on my train whacked my shoulder with a laptop case thrown over their shoulder.  But was I leaning into the aisle? Was I invading their thoroughfare, or were they invading my space in my seat?

And now I notice I have described it as my space and their space and introduced the idea of ‘invading’… strong words.

Personal space clearly matters.

what is your relationship to space?

space freedom
I’m on a train. If possible, when on a train I sit in the aisle seat.

This typically requires another passenger to ask me to move if they seek to occupy the window seat. I notice I encourage this need to ask.

Now, I’m not a selfish person. I like other people and I will often go a long way in support of their needs.  I will always move to allow seat access and only last week I moved completely to allow four ladies to sit together around a table booth on the train.

Still, I like the space of the aisle seat. I don’t like being trapped by the window. Dependent on another moving for me to move.

This afternoon I’m reflecting on the clearly higher priority I place on space and freedom, and possibly control, over compassion and kind nature towards fellow humans.

It appears to be my truth though.

I like space to think too. Space around me when I’m coaching. Physical space at work and at home. I like walking in open spaces. But beyond this I don’t like to be constrained by others. Physically, mentally, emotionally, creatively. Pretty much any dimension actually. Never ask me to do something and then prescribe how I should do it. For me, this is another manifestation of constraint or removal of space and freedom.

What is your relationship to space?
To freedom?
To being unconstrained?

And how does this manifest for you? How do you experience this relationship with space?

 

fifty shades of green

shades
I’ve been lucky enough to spend time outside today, in the sunshine. I’ve been walking. In open space. Near a river. In nature. Exploring with likeminded people. Coaches.

Nature can teach us much. Many things we struggle with in our human existence have long ago been resolved by nature. By the elements, by other species, by animal and plant. We build buildings with sophisticated cooling systems for hot climates, whilst termites solved the problem long ago, without technology. A tree draws water sixty seventy feet up into its structure without a single pump.

Not only can nature offer us clues to solutions for practical challenges, engineering conundrums, it can also offer insight to our challenges of mind, of thought, of feeling. Challenges around our very being. Our humanity.

Walking today I noticed just how perspective changes as you take another view, turn around, move closer, move away. Useful tools for exploring our own stuckness.

It’s easy to think grass, trees, shrubs, leaves, plants are all green. But today I also noticed just how many shades of green there are. Many enhanced still further by light or shade playing on their surface.

There are shades for our human worlds too. Problems are never one shade. Opportunities are never one shade. Relationships never one shade. Our Performance never one shade. Never one shade of solution. Never one shade of right or wrong, good or bad.

We would do well to remember this. To see the shade in our lives and to get perspective.

If you’re struggling with that, maybe go outside? Walk. Look. Notice.