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Go Over The Line

Fuck! I crossed a line.

I didn’t need to do that. Really. I didn’t. I didn’t need to put that “bad” word there so big. I didn’t. This is not an article about cursing. Or even about the power of words.

Instead, I want to write about the idea of “going over the line.” Which is what I just tried to do with the explicative – to cross a line. Line crossing is our topic today.

 

If you want to read about the science of how cursing helps relieve stress, click here.
If you want to read an article I wrote about cursing versus bad words, click here.

 

 

A story about line crossing

Here is a conversation I had years ago with my meditation instructor:

“I am afraid I am going to fall asleep while meditating.” 

“Go ahead, fall asleep while you meditate.”

“Well, I don’t want to fall asleep while I am meditating.”

“Brian, unless you allow yourself to fall asleep, you’ll never know where that line is.

You’ll never know how far you could have gone before you fell asleep.” 

 

That stuck with me. 

After that, I have allowed myself to fall asleep from time to time in my meditation. Because this way I have been able to learn about the spaces of consciousness right before unawareness.

I think many of us stay far away from the lines in our lives. 

 

And, if we stay safe we don’t learn.

We want to be socially correct. 
We don’t want to insult anyone.

 

I’m going to advocate we give this up a little bit.

 

Especially now. Especially now that NOT-standing up is perilous.

 

 

Annie

On Tuesday night, my darling 9-year old – horribly exhausted after getting home from the theater an hour after bed time – told me that it was my fault she couldn’t find “lambie” – the lovely that she sleeps with. 

“It’s your fault,” she said.
“Annie, you know that’s not right.”
“It is. You had her last when we got home.”
“No, honey, you had her after school.”
“No, you did. You are a terrible father, you don’t care about me. You hate me. You…  “
“I love myself too much to be treated like that,” I said while walking away from her.
“I hate you. I hate you.”
“You can put yourself to bed tonight.”
“Fine, I will!”

I found lambie and gave it to her without many words. She put herself to bed.

The point is, unless she crossed the line of what is inappropriate, how would she learn where the line is? 

Comedy

My brother-in-law, Bob, is hilariously funny. But sometimes he will cross a line of appropriateness in his jokes. 

 

And I’ve even heard him say, “Hey, you don’t know where the line is sometimes until you’ve crossed it.”

 

 

Racism / Hate speech

Without vilifying the speaker, we can simply point out to someone that they crossed a line.

My friend Michelle told me that she has practiced saying, “Hey, that was a little racist” to sound like, “Hey, you’ve got some broccoli stuck in your teeth.”

Let people know when they have crossed a line.

And, try to do it kindly so they will actually listen.

 

 

Me, ruder, more real

For years, I attempted to hide my anger. I didn’t want anyone to know that I could be an ass. I wanted to be the perfect embodiment of a perfect rabbi. But, doing that I wound up being like a statue of a Buddha – not like an actual person.

Staying far from the line kept me safe, but it also kept me from being real.

 

I like the realer version of me much more. I’m a much more perfect rabbi now that I am more real and am much more honest.

 

 

The fallout.

Of course, from time to time, I cross a line that puts me out of bounds.

 

It happens. You want to know what I do? I apologize.

That’s it. No big deal.

 

If people don’t allow me to error, rescind, and make restitution, well, I’m not certain those are the type of people I want to be hanging so much with those people anyhow.

How about you?

Do you have it in you to free yourself up and cross a few more lines?

 

Can you stand up to people a little louder?

 

I might even imagine in this political climate that you need to dare a little more, to take a chance.

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Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer

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