What defines you?
A threshold defines you.
Or does it?
I’ve stumbled across this phrase a few times.
“Your threshold defines you!”
My grandma was a pragmatist.
“Sweep the floor, and get that dirt over the threshold. then it’s not an ‘inside problem’ anymore!”
A threshold is a boundary.
But it’s a boundary that, by design, is meant to be crossed.
In some scenarios, the words “limit,” “threshold,” and even “barrier” seem to have become siblings.
That’s fine because I believe we become so enamored with using some words in some scenarios that we can forget the richness of synonyms and potential synonyms.
And that’s what this is all about: To challenge linguistic assumptions that can become gospel so readily.
Military life was often about thresholds, or testing limits, if you would.
Before I got onto that dreaded train that transported new conscripts to their postings, I attempted to get information from those who had already been through military service.
And, to my dismay, there was this one common denominator, phrased in more or less the same way: “They will push you to your limits, and then tell you that’s only the start.”
There might be some wisdom in the adage that “Ignorance is bliss.”
“They will push you to your limits, and then tell you that’s only the start.”
I experienced the same thing when my boots hit the ground.
And they did hit the ground running.
You get pushed to the limits… Or not, because those limits are redefined or tweaked all the time.
But, if those thresholds were “limits,” then they were still intended to be crossed.
There was one pervasive thing with our instructor: The sergeant often asked, “who is going to quit, who thinks they are not good enough to be officer-material?”
And each time we crossed that proverbial threshold, we were taunted by the recurring question.
I reckon pride kept many of us running beyond the limits we believed we had.
But it was so much more than that: It was a choice.
Once you reach a threshold, it invites you to step over it, should you choose to do so.
Of course you can be kicked from behind, and you’ll stumble across, if you’re fortunate, but that still won’t prompt you to make even more “self-defining” choices once you’ve reached the other side.
I believe that choice is “deliberate, and intentional motion.”
And what about the times when you didn’t manage to cross the threshold?
Did that define you as being “inadequate” on any level?
Or did the choice you make after that, define, or reveal something more profound about who you are?
Sarge had his own answer for that, and again, it hinged on choice.
“You will fail, quite often, and some of you will come back and try again because you feel you have no choice. But some of you will choose HOW you come back!”
I fail quite often, and at times I felt “defined” by not having managed to operate beyond a threshold.
During the times when I choose to crawl back in style, I’m not so sure it necessarily “defines” everything about me, but damn, it still tells me, “you’re ok.”