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Eliminating the Horizon

We need boundaries. They create structure in our lives. Having said this, I think Linda Nemec Foster asks a great question, “Who needs boundaries?” Can we close our eyes and imagine where the earth ends and the sky begins? Or, where the stream wanders it disappears from our sight?

Many years ago, Kathy and I camped with friends at Quesnel Lake, a beautiful and isolated glacially-fed lake, in central British Columbia.

There is a waterfall, named Niagara Falls, that flows into the east end of the lake.They are 30-40 metres high and narrow. As we approached the falls, we cut the boat motor and heard them thundering from about 1 km away.

We chatted and wondered about the waterfalls’ source. We arrived at a consensus is small lake at the base of a distant mountain fed Niagara Creek. I imagined what that looked like as we climbed to where the falls cascaded over the edge. There was a mountain in the distance which seemed to confirm our guess, but our view – our horizon – was obscured.

That evening, as we sat around the fire, we pulled maps out and found the river did not seem to be lake-fed, but just began at the base of a mountain. Today, I see different possibilities in my mind’s eye. It might be glacial fed, spring fed, or emerge from an unmarked, small lake.

When we close our eyes, we imagine what is beyond the boundaries and their limits. We move past horizons as our imaginations lead the way. There are no lines there.

Who needs boundaries?

If your eyes fail to imagine

where the earth ends and the sky

begins, think of a place bereft

of lines: the blue depths of a stream

flowing like hair that will never

be combed. Deep indigo of nothing

but fluid memory ebbing around

blossoms of white asters. “I remember

how flowers feel when you barely

touch them,” says the water. Like leaving

one world and embracing another:

seeds bursting into wildflowers,

clouds changing into rain,

the image of our borders

a mere outline the soul ignores.


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

24 responses »

  1. wonderful Ivon!
    please let the heart
    & mind be free!
    but put some boundaries
    on the body 🙂

  2. Thumbs up to poetry and I am in BC too so I particularly like this post 🙂

    • There are places in BC where one can just get lost without trying. The boundaries are pretty porous between civilization and Nature. Whenever I drive to Prince George from Alberta, I remember that the stretch from the border to Prince George is a place where I am not alone.

  3. Wonderful post! I like that I remember how flowers feel when you barely touch them! 😀

  4. Los límites a veces son invisibles.

    Buen Domingo

  5. What an absolutely fantastic post! I am rethinking a whole lot of stuff now – thanks Ivon.

    • You are welcome. The post provoked some great comments and clearly boundaries are not clearly understood. They are paradoxical in many ways it seems based on the thoughtful responses.

  6. It’s hard for me to imagine a world without boundaries. In my work-a-day world of systems development and process improvement, boundaries are where things get interesting. Transitions occurr, state changes and people are often involved. It’s hard but it would be beneficial to look at the whole process without the boundaries but we don’t often do it. We take steps rather than leap. You’ve given me good for thought today, maybe in an area you weren’t targeting but I think it’s useful. Thanks.

  7. As always thought provoking. A view from a mindful space, I hope.

    It is the false boundaries we create, honor that steal life more than anything else. Most of my boundaries in life have been found to be erroneous or worthless.

    Our past judgments, bias and fears develop certain attitudes and personality that we adopt as us. Look how a persons career impacts their view of life.

    Each group has its vulnerabilities, dogmas.

    Look at politics how could you find boundaries on either fringe side far right or left. Special interests groups narrow life to one boundary.

    Looks very small to me.

    Emotion erects many foolish barriers.

    Maybe better to find the deletion we honor first.

    My opinion

  8. I’m not so sure that boundaries and structure are synonymous in my world, Ivon. While boundaries may appear to offer structure, from my point of view, they are but a temporary limitation. Often, I forget they’re temporary and allow myself to be bound by them for far too long and, in those instances, they could be perceived as structures. Structure, on the other hand, is there to support my life and, as such, changes to support my current requirements.

    As always, nice to stop by for a contemplation! xoxoM

    • Perhaps, structure is more cultural at times. Matrix might be a better word. I am not sure either. I think you are right Margarita. It is nice to stop and think about how we use language.

  9. How beautiful! Many nuggets to ponder…how we see, and often create, boundaries and limitations …blissfully ignored by the soul.

  10. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  11. Truly Fantastic and thoughtful presentation.
    Evidently it is all Manifestation of God’s Leela.
    Thank you, that such Great article shared..


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