Boundaries

The first time I visited the family farms in Ghana, DadaK pointed out that the boundaries of each farm were defined by plants of a different colour to the surrounding vegetation. I can’t remember exactly what they were like, but I remember they had variegated leaves, something like this:

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Plants may be used to define boundaries, but they can’t be contained by them.

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It seems to be the nature of life, that it must burst through and across and around ….

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boundaries-nasturtiums

Humans are sensitive about boundaries. We hedge ourselves about with them — emotional, metaphorical and of course physical.

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The back walls of adjacent sheds in a local lane.

When the boundaries we set (or imagine should exist) are transgressed, our feelings can range from grumpy to homicidal. You only have to look at the nightmare abuse of asylum seekers’ human rights by the Australian government, as well as recent events in Europe.

And yet, often, the boundaries are where the unexpected unfolds and beauty flowers.

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I should know, I crossed racial boundaries long ago. That’s why this blog is called Border Crossings. When I set it up, I wrote:

‘A border crossing is both a place and an action. It’s a place where people meet and pass each other on the way to someplace different. The place could be new or familiar, alien, dangerous, welcoming … but always, however subtly, different.

The act of crossing borders can be easy, scary, exciting, bewildering. You can breeze through, or battle.  Border crossings are sometimes the site of conflict, as each side tries to push its own frontiers further into new territory. But they also have great potential as a place of change, negotiation, and the start of new journeys.

People in cross-cultural / mixed ‘race’ relationships cross borders every day.’

And now, looking back on the 26 years since I met my son’s dad, I’d say: we not only cross borders, but we explore and extend the boundaries of what’s possible for human relationships, and human happiness.

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June 1994: Me and DadaK with our precious new baby.

See other responses to the WordPress photo challenge: Boundaries.

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9 thoughts on “Boundaries

  1. Such a heartfelt and powerful interpretation of this week’s challenge. That is such a lovely last photo for the theme – family knows no boundaries. Love knows no boundaries. “People in cross-cultural / mixed ‘race’ relationships cross borders every day.’” I think that is so true. Being around people of different cultures all my life, just when I think I know them, I learn something new about their background. It may be what a certain word means to them or that they don’t eat a certain food. Also, our boundaries go up and down as we experience life and interact with each other.

    I think we are sensitive of boundaries because more often than not we are protective of our culture, proud of our culture and don’t want anyone taking that away from us.

    • Thanks Mabel, & what you say about boundaries is also true – it’s a complex subject that I’ve simplified a lot. It can of course be very important to respect boundaries, both physical and cultural. That is something we all have to learn in our relationships; especially white people, who have a tendency to trample over cultural, political and geographic boundaries when expedient. But you know me, always an advocate for flexibility where I see unthinking rigidity 🙂

      • I think white privilege certainly has something to do with these cultural boundaries. Perhaps I’ve not been following the news or current affairs, but I find that this term and notion is only occasionally debated.

      • Yes, white privilege certainly doesn’t recognise the cultural boundaries of anyone except white people & we don’t see it discussed a lot in Australia.

    • Thanks for the id Paul, I thought it looked gorgeous with the new growth. Seems great minds think alike when it comes to plant borders. Do they do it in PNG too?

  2. Your thoughts on the contradictory nature of boundaries really rings true. I like the idea of plant boundaries and the meaning of the colours and leaves. Thank you for your great photos, Jill

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