That Thin White Line

thinwhiteline“Step out the front door like a ghost into the fog where no one notices the contrast of white on white. And in between the moon and you angels get a better view of the crumbling difference between wrong and right.” ~Counting Crows- Round Here

It starts with a slide step, one quick lateral movement that changes everything. It’s easy to imagine you haven’t even moved at all. Blink and you’re gone from direct line of sight. But you’re still there, like a ghost slipping into the fog, where the contrast disappears and you can do whatever you like, not what you think others will justify. What would you do then, when no one could see you?

You see, the line between what’s wrong and what’s right is really a tightrope, so thin it fades to nothing if you stare at it long enough. And we all stare it. Don’t lie. It’s unbecoming. We’ve all thought about doing something on the other side of that line for one reason or another. You know, if no one was watching.

Because that’s the key, isn’t it? When others have their eyes on us we toe that line. We do what’s expected of us. It’s in those quiet moments, outside of prying eyes, when we make those big decisions and then later pay the consequences. As an English teacher I’ve often taught the term “soliloquy,” which is when a character makes a speech while alone on stage, or when he thinks he’s alone on stage. That’s an important distinction because believing something to be so makes it so in our minds. It gives us an excuse to cross that thin white line.

It’s who we we are in those moments of solitude, when we make those decisions that affect us and others, when we get that chance to slide over the line, that’s what defines us, what creates our lasting legacy. Even if we are the only ones who ever know what we’ve done. It’s enough. Those who stay in the frame, who avoid the line at all costs when they toil in silence, to them I tip my hat.

Because it’s hard to stay on this side of the line. But it can be done.



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