The word edgy has gotten a workout the past few years. Originally describing nervous and jumpy people, the word has morphed to include daring, provocative and trend setting. Transformative ideas are often described with attributes of the edge: Leading-edge, cutting-edge, pushing-the-edge.
Though edges are often paired with thrill seeking, intellectually, physically or emotionally – thrill seeking is only one aspect of the practice. Consciously working with your edges with positive and compassionate intentions can increase your resilience. And resilience is one of the keys to a fulfilling life.
Resilience is the strength we use to pick ourselves up and move on from the stumbles, falls and blows of life. Resilience gets us past the bad things that happen to us and puts us on the path to our best life. Resilience transforms surviving into thriving. If you want to increase your resilience in any way; emotionally, physically, intellectually, practice working with your edges, whatever they may be.
Finding edges is an adventure in itself. It doesn’t have to be all difficulty and pain that bring us to the edge (though that is certainly one way), joy, curiosity, adventure and love also can challenge our edges.
Life gives us plenty of accessible ways to expand our edges and increase our resilience. Formal education and self-study can help us transform and grow intellectually as we push the edges of our intellectual skills and comprehension. Sports can do the same for us physically, the efforts resulting in a body that can do more than ever before. Cultivating compassion towards ourselves and others can help us expand the edges of our consciousness as we grow emotionally and spiritually.
Whatever the edges are within yourself that you identify and seek to expand, remember that one person’s edge is not another person’s edge. Edge-finding is not a competitive sport.
Here’s an example: I don’t like heights. Several summers ago I took my daughter and her friend on a float down the Deschutes River, where it meanders through the town of Bend, Oregon. Floating the river through town, we stopped to climb onto a footbridge arching the riverbanks. A small group of young people and kids were climbing onto the bridge railing to jump into the river below. My then ten year old daughter and her friend joined in. They jumped in, swam to the edge and jumped in again about three times before I jumped even once.
It took me about twenty minutes to jump off of an eight foot tall span of bridge. A very long twenty minutes. And I was proud of myself. My daughter and her friend were polite about my excitement, but didn’t understand it. Their edges were somewhere else entirely, not even on this trip.
Playing with your edges consciously and compassionately is a form of spiritual practice. Finding those edges and pushing at them in small and large ways keeps them flexible and open to growth.
Practice playing with your edges and not only will you have a new set of adventures to experience, you’ll be developing your resilience. Your capacity to thrive and enjoy your life despite the tough stuff will increase. Make playing with your edges a part of your consistent practice and the choices you have in all aspects of your life will expand and deepen.