What Does The Word ‘Border’ Mean To You?

When you hear the word ‘border’ what do you think of? Is there a particular idea that comes to mind?

In some cases, a border is a sharp delineation between two things. For example, the drawings in a coloring book use borders to tell the green part from the blue part.

However, the idea quickly grows more unclear. Let’s use a border between two properties. That boundary is an imaginary line that serves as a legal distinction between, say, me and my neighbor. On this side of this imaginary line is my property; that side of the line belongs to my neighbor.

But that line is not real. A tree growing on one side may have limbs and/or roots that pass through this imaginary edge to the other side. Birds fly right through this line, and snow piles up the same on either side. Borders between countries, or even continents, are similarly porous.

For another example, how about a border between a forest and a prairie. That’s pretty straightforward: where the trees end and the grass begins is the boundary.

But seeds from the grass can blow underneath trees and grow there. And an acorn from a tree on this boundary can fall into the prairie. The border is not so fixed.

Or in a more abstract sense, what about two areas of study? What is the border then? This one thing is physics; that one thing is astronomy. But in that middle ground is astrophysics.

If you look more closely at the edges, any two areas can blend with each other. So does the boundary really exist? What does the word ‘border’ mean to you?

Related questions: Where does authority come from? When did you last push the boundaries of your comfort zone? What do you measure? What is your bubble?

2 thoughts on “What Does The Word ‘Border’ Mean To You?”

  1. I remember the professor of a political science class I took years ago noting that the word ‘border’ in the American mind used to be much more synonymous to the word ‘frontier’ and as something to be conquered. While not as true in the political geography realm these days, I think the American mind still thinks of borders or advances or records as something to be exceeded. America was and is built on the idea of growth — growth in, say, markets, or in influence, or even in the number of Olympic medals won.

    Personally, I like the idea of border as something that is more of a zone or region between, for example, cultures or natural boundaries. On the border between two countries there may be a zone where cultures and markets mix, making for a truly unique experience. I remember feeling this when I was traveling in southern Spain several years ago.

    Or for another example, I grew up on a small farm — 81 acres, only 12 of which were farmable. While fields and forests were meant to be two different areas, as noted in the question context above, trees and grasses trespassed into each others’ territories. Some years the zone was thin, a chaotic mix of one area versus the other. But other times a field invaded far into the woodland, creating a unique and interesting place to explore.

    I like the idea of porous borders with zones characterized by strength in diversity.

  2. The first thing that comes to mind are restrictions. We have had open borders in Europe for a long time but this year with Corona we suddenly saw borders closing from one country to another. Not only closed but barricaded as well. My husband who works across the border had to show a certificate from his work why he needed to cross. Suddenly we were back to every country for its self and the EU was no where to be found.

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