I started writing this a while ago, when someone asked me a seemingly simple question. I've put a lot of thought into it. I'm posting it now, because I finally think it is finished. The question was:
Is there one thing that quickly takes you beyond the normal boundaries of yourself?
Beyond the normal boundaries of who I am... Well, I suppose that would depend on what you define those boundaries as. I am a wife, and a mother. At work, where I spend 40 of my waking hours, I am polite, happy, mostly proper. I doubt many of the people who see me in a normal day would have any idea that I am not exactly as I seem. And, in truth, the way I seem there IS who I am. Just not all of me. There is such a thing as 'situationally appropriate.'
There are things that take me in new directions. That stretch me. Sometimes I go back to 'normal' afterward, and sometimes it is a permanent change. What they are is always evolving. It could be a book that makes me question long held beliefs. It could be a perfectly worded piece of conversation that shines a light on otherwise shadowy corners. It could be someone making a suggestion that I had previously dismissed. Quickly, a difference is noted, pondered over, a change takes place.
If you are looking for an instant change in attitude, I can answer that also. A hand at my throat. I will go from feisty to putty in no time flat. There's something about grabbing a person by the throat that screams dominance. Power. Control. There's something in me that surrenders to such displays. Whether it is a tight squeezing that inhibits my breathing, or a gentle hold, that one act speaks to me. Without trust, though, that moment of yielding is quickly washed away.
All of these things are true. All of them are within the boundaries of 'normal' for me. It is normal for me to surrender. It is normal for me to think, and to learn. It is normal for me to remember my manners, and behave appropriately to the surroundings. Does this mean there is nothing that takes me beyond the boundaries of myself? No, I don't think so. I think it means that exploring those boundaries -- and beyond -- is what makes me... Myself.