People Push Boundaries to Learn as Much as to Intrude.
When it comes to boundaries, I’m given to extremes.
Either they’re permeable, amorphous membranes like the flowing forms of swaying sea creatures, or they are unyielding and stony.
This isn’t an arbitrary set of extremes, I don’t think that’s how sets of extremes work. They correlate with each other, compensate for each other, and carry the echoes of the past.
I hope to have boundaries one day that are like iridescent sea shells, solidified from an intrinsic, vital sap and able to be seen from afar.
Gleaming, prismatic when in opened opalescence, and a secure enclosure of ridged rigidity when not.
I’ve had the ability to discern desire for as long as I can remember, a natal disposition that I think intensified when my brother died.
I’ve spoken bluntly of my dynamics with my parents, perhaps I’ve simplified some aspects in a way that was myopic.
To many, my early childhood could be seen as idyllic, with interactions stemming from an environment where three sensitive, emotional beings responded to each other with near clairvoyance.
It seems to me that only children are often highly attuned to their parents, existing more on a triangulated nexus of awareness than those with the diffusion of siblings.
My parents were creative, they laughed, they were in love, those things are all true. They came from vastly different homes and were able to make one that vibrated with love, the kind that shivers with the mirth of an unlikely group improvisation given mimed stage directions.
Whether they were in their own rare love prepared for a child, or for what happened when they had a second child, is something I can only speculate upon. I’m now older than they were when they had me and am proudly happy to keep plants alive.
My brother, like me, was premature. I was just around a month premature, he was more. The specifics evade me, even writing the words my brother seems strange. I don’t feel that I had one — he was born, lived 10 days, and died in the hospital.
My awareness of the shift came after he was gone, nothing was the same.
The house was plunged into something else, another vibration took hold, slower patterns seized our home punctuated only by the keen of lamentation. The dynamics shifted, my father became peripheral, escaping into the outer world, my mother went into a world within. To be seen by them I changed, not consciously at the time, but I see now that I was older around my father, younger around my mother.
The outdoorsy kid with grit, the soothingly quiet child with wide, soft eyes. I was both.
The marriage disbanded. Two people on oppositional spirals of reactivity and a child as a constantly shifting axis around which they’d constellate.
My mother would paint her lost child, a world peopled with children in the ether, my father played music when not having adventures in the outside world. The basement transformed by insistent drumming and candles splashed with the vibrant countenance of the Virgin Mary, in all her serene syncretism.
It seemed as though I oscillated between pagan temples of life and death, ferrying messages like a PB&J-scented psychopomp when not in my own world. I escaped into books or the woods or make-believe kingdoms on the brink of doom, but where doom would never come.
Learning about your own permeable barriers early is difficult, but it can also yield a dynamic resilience. As often as you play a role in the lives of others, particularly in your early adulthood, there’s a tranquility in knowing what is needed. Knowing how to shift to adapt to someone else’s emotional landscape, how to be understood.
My mother later remarried, and with the jealous stepfather in place, it was time for my own Call To Adventure.
If you’re going to leap out into the world as a rather unworldly youth, I can’t recommend a preternatural sense of others’ expectations enough.
I moved through Europe and The Middle East on a thrilling ride, and really got the taste for throwing myself into the currents and allowing my premonitions to pronounce my protean palette. I’d alter my energy. I never faked it, I became it.
Now in another stage of life, though still given to the odd adventure, I’m in the healing arts. It’s taken many experiences to bring me here, parsing through the flings and mishaps. I’ve gone through enough of my own wildly unique ride to encircle myself, to return to a place where I’m in service.
I want to use whatever interpersonal intuition I have to be useful. The wild desire to reclaim myself and live my life as I wanted, as my own being, was given vivid incarnation.
Now I’m less enticed by an experience that will be an intriguing story, and I’m once again interested in the stories of others, and how I can help.
This isn’t so much an agape feeling of boundless love for my fellow humans, though I have moments, as it is a realistic assessment of my capabilities. I can discern some patterns in others, how they move through life, and can assist in creating more dynamic spirals of physical expression.
In fact, my sensitivity is used in service of finding kinetic expression. I am not a counselor, a confidante or commiserator, though in my working life there have been attempts to paint me as such. A sensitivity sensed can be exploited when limit is not communicated clearly.
I think the glut of empath think-pieces indicates the need for sensitive people to define and manage their own boundaries.
One thing that was helpful for me was hearing the word boundary as a verb. One does not have boundaries, one boundaries.
One is invested in the constant upkeep of their own emotional, energetic delineations. This was so novel to me! It’s not just some static, fixed attribute, it’s something that shifts depending on the needs of the organism. A childhood spent devising magic lands, and I could never conceive of this sorcery.
Years of being overtly physical in orientation and expression delayed this realm of development for me. I was a dancer and a persona, I was able to avoid this space because dance and performance place someone in a protective mantle. The aura of simplicity and completion, of crackling presentness in presentation, is its own shell.
To reveal your own physicality in openness, it’s a shell that can be seen from within. It bares its molten rainbow and soft-bellied being as an exquisite uniformity of vulnerability and beauty.
No art is like it. Writing is different, it invites the probing, the tapping, the hard clicking of assumed toughness. It invites interrogation, spearing palpation and invasion.
It’s important for me to incorporate the lessons of dance into my life now.
The freedom to reveal and be open, and still exist in the vitalizing core of one’s own being. Sharing, sensing, relating, but not seeking completion.
Not attempting to be validated as a person for a moment of authentic expression.
To take the flow of movement and use it to disturb the caging crystallization of external imposition, to be as open as the moment.
Dynamic sensitivity is called for in the healing arts.
This is particularly true where wellness meets the office.
My observation involving office work is that it encourages a constant needling of boundary. A passive aggressive poking that’s the result of anger being inappropriate in the environment. This doesn’t negate aggression however, my understanding is that anger merely adapts to the surrounding.
Trespass is garlanded with faux concern, and like much of the unseen labor in our stifled, polite indoor society, aggression is outsourced.
It’s my understanding that passive aggression is anger that is demonstrated by someone who doesn’t feel comfortable working with that feeling. Due to their inner or outer situation, a transmutation occurs where coded language and galvanized gentility in tone is flaunted.
It can also, I believe, be a lack of self-understanding. If you can’t see your own boundaries, it seems less likely that you’d see your own aggression. It appears to be a case of needing to acknowledge the offense to be aware of the response.
I’ve witnessed the volleying of passive aggression in genial tones enough to feel that neither party was truly allowing themselves to feel affronted, a game of devoutly deferential deflection.
“You don’t mind, do you?”
It can seem cloying, insidiously saccharine, the question slithering in a shroud of benign banality, it is enrobed in the lingua franca of our polite culture.
When I’m asked a question in this way, I remember that more often than not, the querent already knows the answer, but I feel called to elucidate.
You see, as yielding to or defiant of people as I’ve always alternately been, one force that I knew would never take me is oppressive, office monoculture. I enjoy disturbing it, I like being the flux that disrupts.
Somehow navigating in the newly homogenous society of SF has brought a clearer distinction for me of what I will allow.
It’s made me much more clear about What I Mind.
I once needed to be outraged to introduce boundaries, perhaps stemming from childhood and perhaps an innate resistance. I avoided it with intense identification, performance and elusiveness, but now I see a new bastion of freedom.
Dynamism and sensitivity working in harmony. The ability to both detect and deflect another’s imposing material. The fluidity and integrity to create your own.
It takes a special awareness of boundaries to both protect ourselves and engage with others in our charged yet suppressive modern world. And often I think, people push boundaries to learn as much as to intrude. I’ve begun to invite moments like this, to clarify for myself as much as others.
I’m trying now to see the imposition as a moment of sharing, of showing, rather than a moment of fierce reprisal and unassailable independence. This will take some time, there will be many hues that seethe along the rind of my being, which is perfect, because a shimmering shell is more than a boundary, it’s a home.
Maren Zweifler enjoys teaching Yoga with a focus on free movement and intrinsic shapes, emphasizing spinal fluidity and innate, primal posture. Deeply inspired by movement systems that embrace nature like Sridaiva and Continuum Movement. He completed a 500 hour certification in SF and has taught both there and in Austin where he honed his skills teaching private classes tailored to the individual needs of his clients. He created a wellness/yoga program at a non-profit. These experiences allowed him to explore both the unique individuation of the physical experience in one-on-one sessions, and the commonalities of the human form that can be witnessed in large groups. You could connect with Maren on Instagram.