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Boundaries – PT IV


I'm. looking at a Southwest gift card, and an additional credit for an unused ticket, and thought back to my most recent flight, in December of 2016. I had occasion to fly roundtrip cross-country [Baltimore to San Diego] and experienced what I do whenever I fly: looking down at the countryside [and continent] beneath the belly of the plane as I {literally} traversed time and space. I love to fly. Stick me.

I digress.  What does tend to come to mind as I look out whatever 'porthole' I find, is the same recognition that I had when, at age 11, I boarded my first ever {remembered} airplane to fly en masse with the family to 8th Army headquarters in Seoul, S Korea.  What an amazing, somewhat frightening, and surreal experience that was.

Taking off from Travis Air Force Base, CA,this family of 7-minus-1 {eldest sis was graduating high school and chose to remain in Utah} were the only civilians sitting on a prop-job MATS flight filled to capacity with military personnel heading, like we were, to duty assignments scattered throughout the Pacific. I recall flying across the ocean to Hawaii, then on to fuel up again on the island of Wake. This carried us to Tachikawa Airbase outside Tokyo and, following an overnight stay in rooms in a BOQ, onward to the final destination of Kimpo Airbase, S. Korea.  Thousands of miles from 'home.

As we traveled, I kept trying to mentally pull the round school-house globe up into mind.  Hawaii was southwest of Travis. Had no real clue where Wake was, yet I remember thinking that it felt like a roundabout {and v-e-r-y  long} way to head northward towards the islands of Japan. {Are we there yet??} After Japan, the flight would again head westward to Korea. The family was leaving America and heading to “The Orient.”

I don't know what I was expecting ~ yet there was some expectation in that young mind of mine ~ and I remember feeling confused that I could not tell the difference in the land masses as to what was “this country,” what was “that.”  The aforementioned  globe had lines that divided this-country from that-;   it also had pretty colors that demarcated Canada from the USA, China from Korea, the USSR [at that time] from the Scandinavian countries. Where were the thick lines?  Where were the colors?  I could see none of that from the windows of the plane. {Psst … tens-of-hundreds of flight miles later ~ I still can't!}  Where were these Boundaries that marked and separated?

I recall when our dad Ken first told the family that all would be moving to S Korea.  I had been learning about, and memorizing the States at the time, and I recollect feeling so embarrassed that I didn't remember which state Korea was.  {Let's see ….. Washington, Oregon, California. Then over to Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho.   Ummm... K, K ...Kentucky, Kansas ….. where the heck was Korea?} I also remember finally gathering up the courage to ask just where on the US map Korea was. Ken actually chuckled. {I was stunned … thinking I would get a lecture on 'not studying hard enough!!}. He went over to { home is complete without it...} Encyclopedia Britannica, opened one of the tomes to a world map, and ... pointed out Korea.  Holy moley!!!  No wonder I couldn't find it.  It wasn't even in “our” country !!!

This was no road-trip. This was no fill-the-station-wagon with suitcases, pillows and blankets, food baskets, seven people, and head from Ft Ord (Monterrey), CA via Colorado and on to the now-defunct Ft Holabird (Baltimore), Md. {All via pre-interstate highways too!!}  This was out of the freakin' country.  Off the continent. Across a wide, big {somewhat scary appearing} ocean !!

Staring out the transport vehicle's windows as the fam was driven from Kimpo Airport to the now-closed {July 2019} Yongsan Military Base, I recall being mesmerized by rice patties, water buffalo, thatched houses, tiny cabs {which I learned to rudely referred to as “kimchee cabs”}, pagodas and temples, shop signs painted in 'weird' symbols which Ken interpreted as he knew the language. Then, the larger highways of the city of Seoul and Namsan Hill coming into view.

S Korea:  Land of the Morning Calm. A country divided at the 38th parallel. Yet, looking out at the land, it didn't appear 'divided.' A beautiful country, I came to learn, of mountains, forests, rivers large and small, farmlands, tiny villages (agra or fishing), all inevitably leading 'down' [on three of it's four 'sides'] to a coastal topography.  Some rough and tumble; others: smooth sandy beaches.

To an eleven-year-old, all of this looked 'out of place' while headed to a new home base.  It looked and felt  so 'foreign looking' in this foreign {to me} country. I'm pretty sure the 'foreign looking' feeling is felt by those who have lived a lifetime around the wheat fields of Kansas, or the bayous of Louisiana, when first they spy the Rockie Mountains, the concrete of Dallas or the skyscrapers of Manhattan. The deserts of Sonora are equally intimidating as the denseness of the Smokey Mountains. Each piece of these points-of-Geography have their own beauty, their own mystery, and their own Boundaries.

My curiosity {which I've always had plenty of} and this Geography topic were an impetus to further investigate certain questions that my mind wandered and wondered about. {Ok, I'll admit it; 'Data' was my favorite character in Star Trek: Next Generation.}  This IS an amazing planet, so I wondered what I could add to the minimal knowledge I have about the natural (and other-made) Boundaries across this globe. As I also possess a 'trivial pursuit brain' I had fun finding some information that was amazing and awe-inspiring, at least to me.

What I discovered is there are natural Geographic Boundaries all over the globe that are “in your face.” There are canyons and gorges, mountain and ranges. Deserts, arid plains, and prairies. Rivers and seas and phenomenal lakes.  Each continent {how very cool is that !!} has a major river of such length which, in its purity, initially supplied water and nourishment, nutrition and beauty to each terrain (and the peoples who subsequently lived there), as well as a means of connection, travel and commerce. Natural formations that linked or separated enormous sections of land.

A few of these natural wonders and boundaries I have had the honor of seeing:  The Grand Canyon, the exquisite Mediterranian Sea, both Zion and Red River gorges. I've walked portions of the 'puny' (by comparrison) 300-ft high, 10-miles-long White Cliffs of Dover {chalk white and visable from the coast of France}, and seen the Rock of Gibralter {which does look like the artist's rendering in the Prudential insurance ads !!}.

I've been through Death Valley, and climbed portions of the Rocky Mountains.  Hiked the Smokeys and parts of the Appalacian chain in Virginia. Canooed the Harpeth on a mild summer day, and white water afted the Okoee. I swam in the Sea of Japan and the China Sea, gotten my feet wet in the English Channel, the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the Great Salt Lake, as well as the Gulf of Mexico.

What about you? Where have you connected with the bounty and boundaries of this magnificent planet?


Here I come to a “did you know” section, places I would love to see, and which I found fascinating: The Amazon River's length is nearly twice the width of the United States. Mariana Trench is 6.8 miles DEEP and could hold Mt Everest [Earth's tallest mountain] ...and still have a mile of water above to spare. Each continent has it's own mountain ranges and backbones; it's topographical Boundaries: the Alps, Himalayas, Andes; the Rockies, Khangai, and the Great Divide.

Again, what an amazing place in and on which to live. The boundary formation of glaciers or volcanoes, islands and archipeligos, fault-lines and teutonic plates.  Icelandic shelves, rainforests, volcanoes, fiords. It all is a living and breathing entity, and there is much to learn in the geography of Earth regarding how to live with and respect Boundaries.

Again, I ask you, what are your favorites sites? Those natural pieces-and-parts of this planet that have caught your attention, your awe (or your fear)? When did you last look around or find yourself drawn to a portion of the architecture outside your window or door? What curiosity or majesty pulled you?  Did you follow the pull?

Have you remained inside your own perceived boundaries and borders, or have you explored this amazing school-of-life which surrounds you? Do you follow the rules and let the “welcome to Kansas” sign create separation in your Mind-space, tossing in all the judgments and beliefs about having just left Missouri?

I find with most people {as I find for myself} that what 'draws' a person to a natural boundary-area resonates with the emotional.  I personally love the ocean, the sound of sea and surf, the great expanse of sky; these feed my sense of peace, flow, creative thinkings and are also a re-Minder that I am small-yet-a-part-of-the-greater.

That same expanse of sand in a desert leaves me feeling lost and uncomfortable; a sense of endlessness that's overwhelming. Woods and forests are beautiful ~ yet soon bring on a feeling of claustrophobia. Interesting, isn't it, that internal resonance and emotional boundary. What's your connection and why? If you wish, something you can choose to ponder.

Besides the majestic, there are other Boundaries more tenuous and subtle:  an ant hill, the sand dune, a meandering stream. The outcroping of rock, or the flatlands giving rise to the foothills. Caves and caverns. Marshlands and sandbars;  arroyos. There is a purpose and reason for each one's existance.  It may be to produce natural resources (gems, oils, metals, water) or to stop the enchroachment of what would damage or destroy its boundary and balance.

Many cultures and peoples work in harmony with these natural boundaries. Others use or abuse them. Others still attempt to contain them: fencing across the prairie; building compounds and walling them off; signage for town 'limits,'county lines, states. Taking it down to the individual level, “fences make good neighbors” {or so the adage goes} and a great number of subdivisions have within them a multitude of fenced back yards. Even without those, a propieitary belief is attached to the not-uncommon verbalization of one person hollering at another: 'your dog pooped in my yard.' {Huh. The dog simply thought it was convenient earth on which to 'go.'}

This planet, and its amazaing geography, is such a consistent teacher and mirror. Do you embrace its diversity and lessons? Do you cross its Boundaries, trying to change it into what you want it to be? Can you be like the organizers and folks in the photo in the last post {Culture and Society} who are part of the festival of Burning Man? Annually, since the mid-1980s, this gathering of folks create a 'village' in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada [population: '0'], to celebrate creativity and self-expression. Drinking water, lodgings, foods, roads, airstrip, streets, etc. have to be brought in, and created, in this pristinely arid and empty land. Everything for the festival (and existance) is brought in. Population: 30-50,000.  'A delightful time is had by all.”

Following its conclusion, the area is returned to it's natural state, turned back into what it was:  arid and empty. Population: '0'. Not a scrap of debris is left behind. This is a testament to both the desire to celebrate the human, and an honoring and respect for the land.  How remarkable. Of course, there is also, by contrast,  Henderson Island in the South Pacific where the major currents of the ocean-streams of Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian merge:  an uninhabited island which has become a garbage dump, where over 37-million pieces of trash that have been pumped, dropped and discarded settle.   The planet is attempting to manage its own balance and boundaries.

The challenge for you from this specific post is to walk out your front/side/back door.  Simple as that.  Look around you.  Can you see, really see, where it is you choose to reside? What's the foundation the-foundation-of-your-dwelling sits on? What are the vistas your eyes settle upon?  If you want to, and don't have immediate access to natural/nature out the back or front yard, give thanks to those far-thinking supporters, and go out to a local park. Drive (or hike) along the paths, highways-and-byways of your environs. SEE the land and formations. Head over to a (Montgomery Bell) State Park … or a (Yellowstone) National Park.

Take a bit of time and get away from the concrete ~ and allow yourself the emotional and visceral feast of what has been and is waiting for you.  Connect.  Discover.  Re-discover.  Be a kid (maybe for the first time) and climb a tree ~ or at least touch the bark and examine the leaves; feel the earth (be it sand, loam, clay, peat or rocky). Watch a stream meander or thunder by; look at and into an eddy pool. BE a willing student, and ultimately a steward, of the real world that surrounds you. Respect and honor the Boundaries. In that way, it will respect and honor you.

Namaste'    Lin

~ Lin Church, Mssw - Coach, Mentor, Writer, Presenter:  JourneyWoman