On the Verge

Life by Adam on 2007-09-17 04:41

Humans seem to be drawn to verges. A verge is a place of transition, where you can see the previous and the next simultaneously. For example: a beach, the transition from land to water. Shoreline real estate is far more valuable than either an inland plot or a chunk of property far out to sea. Another example is a cliff. The stark transition from high to low, from rocky peak to fertile valley, pleases the soul. People hike long distances to see this sort of verge, or pay a substantial premium to own a house on or near one as compared to a residence not near a verge.

I think people like verges so much because they enable us to appreciate the true immensity and grandeur of the conjoining elements. Comparing them side-by-side makes each more dramatic. The ocean seems more vast when you compare it to the tiny city clinging precariously to the rocky coastline. And being at a high altitude isn’t particularly striking unless you stand near a dropoff and gaze over the edge.

Previously I was unfamiliar with the term “verge” except for that phrase it commonly appears in, “on the verge.” Virginia Postrel’s awesome book The Future and Its Enemies (is anything she writes ever not awesome?) introduced me to use of the term standalone. Now that it’s in my vocabulary, I find useful application for it everywhere.

One of my favorite verges is dusk. The twilight hours are more beautiful and pleasing than either midnight or noon. Dawn has a similar appeal. Dusk and dawn are both verges, the meeting place of night and day. Part of what makes dusk and dawn so invigorating is that you can sense the change. The long hours of midday are monotonous by comparison. At dusk or dawn one is more keenly aware of the cycle of the Earth and the steady march of time.

The most dramatic verge of all is also a verge in the dimension of time, but a more personal one. It’s the verge between one life and the next. Perhaps you’ve lost or acquired a new job; are moving away from your old familiar home and to a new and exciting place; have left behind a stale romance, or found a fresh new one. The excitement, fear, fun, worry, thrill, and uncertainty suffuses your body like a high as you forge ahead into the uncharted territory. Your senses are aroused by new stimuli: unfamiliar sights, sounds, smells; new ways of doing things; new cultural values; new people. It may or may not be fun persay, but it has an intensity that lets you know you are alive. The alternative - adhering to familiar routines ad infinium - is a long and winding road to emotional death.

I stand now on the verge between a life in Los Angeles, with the businesses and friends and home I’ve built here; and then next life, one in San Francisco, with new challenges, new friends, and new experiences as yet unguessable. Like standing on the beach, it fills me with a sense of spiritual awe (Freud’s oceanic feeling) - I can see both lives at once. As my previous life draws to a close, I feel more aware than ever of the satisfaction and joy that I have experienced during its tenure. And as the new life looms, pregnant with possibility, my head swims with the untasted adventure which lies ahead. I savor it now, while I can; this verge can only last so long. Soon I will throw myself headlong into the new life, and the old one will fade into memory.

6 comments per 'On the Verge'

  1. Jedi Wright says:

    Amen and fuck yeah!

    Change is paramount to our existence, well, at least mine anyway! ;)

    I’m very happy for yours and wish you all the very best on your new path. No matter what the outcome, I’m confident that you’ll find success, even if it it’s not from where you might expect it.

    Thanks for helping to enable mine…

  2. Adam @ Dusk » Dreary Phrases says:

    […] thing is “on the verge” of something else in the past. But do you know what a “verge” is? I find it amusing that writers employ such phrases so often, without even knowing what the w […]

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