"When you're headed for the border, lord, you're bound to cross the line."
The word “border” is currently enjoying a volatile and pleasurable moment in the spotlight. It should conjure up images of contrived imaginary lines drawn across stolen lands soaked with blood and torture and destruction; images of squiggle lines fracturing a rainbowed classroom globe into bits of Earth and earth and human lives. It should conjure up images of children and families in cages, of the vice president staring stone-faced as he’s taken on a tour of what to him is a righteous sight, of what is a concentration camp to any decent human being.
A border is an absurdity sold to us as gospel: if we keep them out, we will be safe; the monsters are on the other side; the phone call is coming from outside the house. A borderline is a man with a permanent marker scrawling his name on and defacing the things he wants, laying claim by manifest destiny, by divinely sanctioned thievery. It’s a child licking toys in school to keep the other kids away, to add to his hoard of bespittled playthings. It’s an iron snake striking at those on the outside while surreptitiously suffocating and strangling those it circumscribes. A border is a curse, a sneering curtain through which we pass and become othered.
To know anything about history is to know that borders mean everything and nothing. I am meditating on the transitory.
Which is the most prepared, the most able to grow through and survive the storm? That which is rigid and unmoving, or that which flexible and flowing? When stones are thrown the glass breaks, but the river adjusts and flows on. When I am absolute and unmoving, the pain of truth and growth can shatter and undo me, render me distraught and lifeless. When I am sinuous and centered, I flex, adjust, stretch, and absorb.
To draw a border is to create a limitation where before there was freedom and expanse. If I say, “X is absolute truth,” and I profess this ad nauseum to the world, if I build up X to be the wall—the border—around my brittle self, what then happens when X is proved to be untrue? Or to be part of some other truth?
When an outsider knocks, those on the inside are inclined to build higher walls, not to open doors or demolish ramparts. Often, though, the knock alone is enough to expose and exacerbate the fault lines of the frail and feeble-minded. We build for ourselves structures and fortresses to protect our imperatives, to hide from others and from ourselves the loose and molded foundations of archaic thought passed through generations on the perpendicular back of "how-it’s-always-been-done". We breathe in the spores of toxic ideas and safeguard them, create apologies and justifications for the symptoms they manifest in us and the lack of symptoms they manifest in others. We are not sick; our mucused coughing is part of who we are, who we have always been. They must be sick.
The earth does not laugh at those who build their houses on the safety of precarious and daunting cliffs, but it is not surprised when they topple into and are consumed by the unflinching maw of the sea. I am meditating on fluidity.
A friend asked how I would define myself spiritually. I turned to another friend with whom to work out the answer: my spirituality, my philosophy, my humanity is fluidity. As new information and experience comes to me, I assess, make necessary adjustments, and flow on. When my practices and beliefs are shown to be problematic and faulty I am not destroyed because of proximity, but I am made better and sounder in their absence or evolution. I still have walls, the occasional border, but I find myself now residing in sandcastles, not behind barricades or waiting for war in garrisons. I await with eagerness and terror the creep of the ocean and the flooding of my sandy structures. And I creep toward it with a love song lament bumping in my gut that sings to me that I have never been a person of the broken bordered land, but have always been an ever changing, fluid, morphing thing of the void, of the sea.
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© Alessandra Ragusin 2016-2020