A Year Along the Ecotone

“… as a naturalist, my favorite places to be are along the ecotone. It’s where it’s most alive … usually … the edge of the forest and the meadow. It’s the edge of the ocean and the sand … where the rack line occurs. It’s that interface between peace and chaos. It’s that creative edge that I think we find most instructive. It’s also the most frightening. Because it’s completely uncertain and unpredictable and that’s again where I choose to live.”

Terry Tempest Williams


When I look back on this year on some distant future date, I will think of it – I will continue to feel it – as the year I walked along the ecotone. I have used other words as the year has progressed. I have talked about thresholds and liminality. This new word, ecotone, is the most recent to enter my vocabularyIt is a welcome addition to a growing list of words that mean, here but not still here and there but not quite there.

Very early in 2019 something clicked in me that it was time to make room in my life for what was next with only a faint understanding of what that meant. As I set this new expectation within myself and then expressed it for the first time, I found a sense of ease and comfort I did not realize had been missing, an assurance of moving in the right direction.

As my confidence grew, it became more obvious and much easier to declare new boundaries, to say no to this and only under these conditions to that. I was astonished to find that the world began to conspire to test the limits of my resolve. Two specific, long-time commitments I had intended to keep simply went away, unrelated circumstances removing them from the landscape of my experience.

This unnerved me a little. Was I responsible through the clarity of my intention for this broader re-ordering? It takes a lot of ego to even speculate about such a thing, but the timing was so eerily coordinated, the sense of freedom so enjoyable that I couldn’t help but wonder. And even if it was only circumstantial, it was just the kind of evidence I needed to move towards my new creative edge with additional resolve.

This year will come to a close before I understand what this threshold is asking of me. I imagine that I will be in conversation with it well into the coming year. In all likelihood it will be a much larger and longer conversation than that.

That thought does not frighten me because it allows me not to rush to understand. It allows me to more fully inhabit this place – call it ecotone, threshold, or liminal space – with a purposeful not-knowing.

The days will come and go. I will work and play, sing a little, give thanks, complain, love and work some more. In not-knowing I will live a life and in doing so I may just discover that the ecotone is not only a place to visit, but a place I might choose to live.


Edge_Effect