Permeable Boundaries/Membranes

August 13-16th, 2016

 Outside of Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales, UK


There seems to be less of a preciousness about private property here in the rural areas of the U.K. I went for a wander one day near the Brn Eelyd Guest House. The footpath took me down around slag piles – the remnants of slate mining – and up over stone walls, through ‘kissing gates,’ from one little village to another. It was a peculiar kind of beauty – the beauty of the ruined at rest; the exhausted finally left alone.

This is a familiar feeling for me, being so intertwined with coal country as I am. I had travelled to Wales, in fact, to find a sense of my own lineage, which could be traced back 7 generations to Appalachia, and before that, to Welsh miners. Of coal, not slate. But still, here I searched for resonance.


The boundaries were delimited by stone walls, wire fencing or gates. A set of stairs would go up and over. These boundaries were namely for livestock, not to keep people out. There was a sense of importance in the free-roaming of people, an unspoken value of the British or the rural. An importance and a dignity in being able to maintain a fluid free-flow through these limits, a healthiness & vitality in moving through the membranes of property lines. In the US, I think there would be an outcry, someone waving you off their land with a shotgun.

In relationship to the Body-Mind Centering work I am studying, I connect this feeling of ‘free-flow’ to interstitial fluid, which fills the spaces between cells, bringing nutrients and taking away waste. This feeling of being able to “flow through” boundaries, in this case, boundaries made by people. And in Wales, people also devised ways to facilitate this process. I feel invited into and through these boundaries.

It’s interesting that the British are much less likely to pry, to be nosy, than Americans are, yet they allow and accommodate pedestrians on their land, with an understanding that this free-flow is important to the health of the communal body. Where there is restricted access in the body, i.e. cells that cannot receive the life-giving fluids in the body, there is death or ‘necrosis’.

When people are able to freely walk the same paths, there can be communication/dialogue about the path. We don’t perhaps need to ‘blaze new trails,’ but rather maintain those trails that connect us all, to maintain the health of the land, the health of the community; in the same way, our fluids keep moving, the interstitial fluids ebbing and flowing, inviting openness, inviting our cells to receive what the outer environment has to offer — nutrition, minerals, nourishment.