Two weeks ago I was at the highest point of a mountain where the sun makes its earliest appearance on the Eastern seaboard. A blanket of slate-tinged clouds marked the boundary with an orange sky where the sun broke through, first only a thin dash of brilliant pink light.
I frequently occupy that physical space. I often dally–sometimes far too long–among the glorious debris between low tide and high tide as waves transform the space between shore and sea.
The eponymous song is, for the most part, about less literal spaces: the different calibrations of temper and temperament, and love itself, between imperfect people who love each other for the long haul.
The space between the tears we cry
Is the laughter that keeps us coming back for more. . . .
Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster
You know you went off like the Devil in a church
In the middle of a crowded room
All we can do, my love is hope we don’t take this ship down
But the space between where you’re smiling high
Is where you’ll find me if I get to go
The space between the bullets in our firefight
Is where I’ll be hiding, waiting for you
The rain that falls, splash, in your heart
Runs like sadness down the window into your room . . . .
The space between what’s wrong and right
Is where you’ll find me hiding, waiting for you
The space between your heart and mine
Is the space we’ll fill with time
I contemplate, and sometimes fiercely resist, metaphorical spaces. What occupies the space between right and wrong, love and its absence, life and death? Can it be measured–even set at three feet of “thin space” between those who are here breathing among us and those who no longer are? According to Eric Weiner, that arm’s length of space is more descriptive of an extraordinary place than a quotidian distance: “The ancient pagan Celts, and later, Christians, used the term to describe mesmerizing places like the wind-swept isle of Iona… or the rocky peaks of Croagh Patrick. Heaven and earth, the Celtic saying goes, are only three feet apart, but in thin places that distance is even shorter.”
A boundary is one variety of that space betwixt, but I tend to envision a boundary as a negative barrier: a line to be crossed, something to be surmounted or worked around. Perhaps it is an artifact of the word’s sporting and political associations: district boundaries, guarded borders between nations, being out of bounds.
But sometimes the boundaries we set need to be tested and pushed through, like the sometimes self-defeating protective barriers erected after a heart has been broken.
And some boundaries beautifully demarcate spaces–between being alone and back among others, dawn and daybreak, mountain and ocean, pure gold that will give way to variegated blues. . . and back again in the space between daylight and dusk.