Blurring the Edge

It’s the interesting place, the alive place, the raw, unfiltered place where the real heroes and villains live, before the spinners and sanitizers and manipulators take hold of them, and if we want to catch a glimpse of them, that’s where to look.

There are those who consciously go about the task of making their piece of the world a little more interesting or beautiful or surprising. Those people are my heroes, and the fact that I will never know who most of them are does not matter in the slightest.

They are the growing edges of our lives, the people that create and then open doors where we see only walls, the ones who know they’re stepping into the unknown every moment and do not shrink from that. They are the ones that labor and play and crash into each other and unite with each other and look, and watch, and see, much more clearly than most, what is possible.

They are the people who change things.

Change rarely if ever comes from the mainstream; by definition change stands in opposition to conventional thinking. It’s a delicate balance, a fascinating dance, between the center holding firm to what is and the edges going about the business of doing things differently. Those who push people to the margins are unwittingly sowing the seeds of change, because the ones who remake the world do so from the fringe, and often go unnoticed, until first one person, then another, and another, sees what is happening right in front of them. By the time the changes reach the center, those who inhabit the edge are already moving on to something else, willingly stepping into another unknown. 

We decide every day where we will stand and how we define where we are. Some do not consciously choose the fringes; sometimes it’s the only place that comes close to feeling right. It is both scary and exhilarating to define it as an ever-shifting horizon rather than as a fixed border. It’s “infinite play,” in the words of James Carse, and those who participate are playing in order to keep the game going. We need them, even though sometimes we don’t realize it.

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A career working with teenagers on the fringes of society has made me both sensitive to and appreciative of the complexities of character and the struggles, inner and outer, that we all wrestle with in one form or another. My writing emphasizes character development over action, and, as a lifelong Southerner, the rhythms and cadence of the Southeastern United States influence both my spoken and written voice.

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