A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Monday, 4 February 2008


Well, if you're travelin' in the north country fair/Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline... BOB DYLAN Girl Of The North Country from The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

Good or bad, we think we know/As if thinking makes things so!/All convictions grow along a borderline... JONI MITCHELL Borderline from Turbulent Indigo

There's a place, so I've been told,/Every street is paved with gold/And it's just across the borderline... BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN Across The Borderline from The Ghost Of Tom Joad

What is this thing about borderlines? I've been crossing lots of them myself on the Chemin, on the Camino, as I walk from country to country, region to region, province to province, field to field, stone to stone.

Of course there are the negative aspects, the geo-political aspects. Borders can mean division, barriers, hostility. The best book I've ever read on the political-emotional effects of borders is Michael Ondaatje's poetic novel The English Patient. I'll bet a lot more people have seen Anthony Minghella's film than read the book. The film is good - but the book's a whole lot better.

Borders, borderlines, borderlands. Frontiers, limits, edges. Crossing-points. This whole subject fascinates me. I've always loved those transitory places, those evolving places, the wind-beaten and sea-crashed places, those places on the furthest edge and at the outermost limit. Fisterra in Galicia, Finisterre in Brittany, the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. The Lleyn Peninsula in Wales. Scotland's Cape Wrath. The Florida Keys. Sicily. The French Camargue. The extremities of countries.

My favourite times of day are dawn, the border between night and day, and dusk, the border between day and night. Strange things can happen at these transient, fast-moving times. You feel alive.

Celts, white witches, Wiccans long recognized the magical power of the calendar's turning-points: the solstices, the equinoxes, the pagan festivals of Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain.

The border between water and land at the sea's edge. Between land and sky, or sea and sky, at the horizon. These are potent places.

This is a huge theme and I can only try and touch a chord.

Let's end with the lyrics of the song When I Get To The Border by Richard and Linda Thompson, which appears on their wonderful record I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight. Well, it is a Monday.

Dirty people take what's mine
I can leave them all behind
They can never cross that line
When I get to the border.
Sawbones standing at the door,
Waiting till I hit the floor,
He won't find me anymore
When I get to the border.
Monday morning, monday morning, closing in on me,
I'm packing up and running away
To where nobody picks on me.
If you see a box of pine,
With a name that looks like mine,
Just say I drowned in a barrel of wine
When I get to the border,
When I get to the border.

A one way ticket's in my hand,
Heading for the chosen land,
My troubles will all turn to sand
When I get to the border.
Salty girl with yellow hair,
Waiting in that rocking chair,
And if I'm weary I won't care
When I get to the border.
Monday morning, monday morning, closing in on me,
I'm packing up and running away
To where nobody picks on me.
Dusty road will smell so sweet,
Paved with gold beneath my feet,
And I'll be dancing down the streeet
When I get to the border,
When I get to the border.


am said...

Borderlines. Thresholds. Good theme for today.

About 15 minutes after reading your post, I continued with my re-reading a book called ANAM CARA: A BOOK OF CELTIC WISDOM, by John O' Donohue, and experienced a bright moment of synchronicity as I read these lines on page 42:

"Heidegger said very beautifully that we are custodians of deep and ancient thresholds."

The Solitary Walker said...

That is a wonderful book. I know it well.