The Edges of Our Love

It’s hot.

The ground is fissuring.

It’s only 7 am and I’m already sweating.

I twist the handle of the water spigot.

Water gurgles and hisses as it makes it way along the length of the hose.

I watch and wait.

Twenty tightened streams of water erupt into the air.

I judge their width, height, and depth.

I walk over and adjust the sprinkler’s position in the yard.

I walk back to the house.

I twist the handle of the water spigot.

I wait and watch.

I judge.

And, once again, I walk over and adjust the sprinkler’s position in the yard.

I want to water my plants.

Not the shed.

Not the driveway.

And, most importantly (maybe), not my neighbor’s yard.

There’s my yard.

And, there’s their yards.

I pay for my water.

They pay for theirs.

I water my plants.

They water their plants (well, they don’t).

My neighbors do not see plants the same way that I see plants.

I love plants.

I pay a lot of attention to my plants.

I think it’s fair to say that I pay more attention to their plants than they do.

From afar, that is.

I witness their stunted growth.

Their capped potential.

Their yellowing, drying, dying leaves.

And, my body aches with empathy.

But I do not water them.

I diligently attend to the mutually recognized boundaries that separate our yards.

I don’t like acknowledging it; but, my love for plants has an edge.

Four, in fact.

Four lines that demarcate the plants on my property from the plants on their properties.

And, honestly, I’m thankful for those four lines.

It’s emotionally exhausting empathizing with all of the plants in my neighborhood.

I cannot walk around carrying buckets of water from my house to someone else’s house to water their plants.

In fact, I am not allowed to do this.

It’s called trespassing.

The plants within my four lines are my responsibility. Beyond those lines, I’m absolved of responsibility. Those lines allow me to bask in the green glorious abundance of my garden without guilt. Well, that’s until the cicadas start their deep-heat-of-the-summer singing and plants everywhere – except for my yard – start wilting.

That’s when the edges of my love are laid bare before me.

That’s when the self-interrogation begins…

Why don’t I water that plant?

It’s just a few feet away.

Why is this edge my edge?

How did I arrive at this edge?

All living things (that includes me) are plucked from the common consciousness and deposited into one of following various bodies:

Monera.

Protista.

Fungi.

Plantae.

Animalia.

Within Animalia there are sponges, worms, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

Within mammals there are dogs, whales, elephants, horses and more.  

And, let’s not forget humans.

All together there are 8.7 million different embodiments of life on Earth.

Not just human life.

All of life.

That’s not the number of living things on the planet at one time.

That’s just the number of species.

The number of living things on the planet at one time varies widely.

Out of all of those species and all of the countless living things, which embodiments of life do I include within the edges of my love?

I love plants, trees, birds, butterflies and bees.

But, not all.

I love dogs.

But, not all.

I love humans.

I know I’m supposed to say that I love all humans.

I don’t.

I can’t.

Not even a cross-legged sitting enlightened guru can give their attention and care to all.

There are 7.8 billion human bodies populating the planet as of March 2020.

So, how do I decide which of these bodies to love?

I care for this body, my body.

I care for the bodies of my family and extended family.

However, I’m not here just to care for myself and those in my family. My objective as a human is to care for, attend to, and help move forward (however that is defined by them) as many living things as possible. That includes all living things. But, I’m gonna focus only on humans for now. Having said that, I am operating under one fundamental constraint. I have just one lifetime. And, I do not know how long that lifetime will last. So, I need to make choices. I need constraints to help me choose who I will – if I need to – alter my beliefs, behaviors, and/or consumption patterns for their possible emotional, spiritual and/or material betterment?

I need edges.

So, beyond familial connection, how will I decide?

How about bodies that speak like mine?

There are 7117 different languages in the world.

That’s a lot of edges.

That’s good for winnowing down the number of bodies I have to attend to.

But, that’s also a lot of edges.

How about bodies that pray like mine?

Well, I don’t pray (not in the traditional sense). But, what if I did?

There are currently 4,200 different religious and spiritual traditions.

Fewer but still a lot edges.

What if I focus on one of the major religions?

What about those bodies that wear a crescent, cross or the Star of David around their neck?

Whichever I choose, that’s still billions of bodies (at least for the first two religions listed).

So, how about bodies that pay taxes to the same political authority as mine?

There are currently 206 sovereign states.

I pay taxes to the United States government and there are currently around 330 million American bodies.

Of these, which American bodies do I choose to love?

Bodies that look like mine?

Have the same skin color as mine?

Function like mine?

Those with ten fingers and ten toes as mine?

Those with the same physical, emotional and intellectual capabilities as mine?

Bodies that vote like mine?

Participate in the same rituals as mine?

Dress like mine?

Bodies that marry other bodies like I do?

One partner.

The opposite sex.

Monogamous.

Bodies that identify with the gender of their embodied bodies like mine?

How about American bodies that speak the same language and pray the same way that I do?

There are all kinds of imaginable ways that I can segregate and separate American bodies.

So many edges.

So many fences, gates, walls, moats and mined territories scarring the landscape and my mind.

These borders.

Boundaries.

And, yes, my body.

They’re all artificial edges.

I was born into them thinking that they’re naturally occurring.

They’re not.

They’re malleable and porous.

Throughout time, they have constricted and expanded.

What is the underlying demographic, political, economic, environmental and/or technological determinants of this expansiveness or lack thereof?

Individuals who and communities that are expansive in their love, what allows them to be so?

Is there an emotional and/or spiritual state that they have to achieve before becoming so expansive in their love?

If material comfort is a determinant (which I suspect it is), what is the level of material comfort that allows them to be so?

And, if it is, how does one’s conception of material comfort influence their expansiveness?

Can you change an individual’s and/or a community’s conception of comfort?

The edges of our love…

I walk back to the water spigot and twist the handle.

I wait and watch.

Judge.

Adjust.

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Questions or comments? Just fill out the CONTACT form on my ABOUT page and I will get back with you right away. Thanks. – shawn

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Photo by Rafael Garcin on Unsplash

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