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My life as I remember it began in Patchacan, a little Maya village in Belize, in the Corozal District that borders Quintana Roo in Mexico and lies on the Yucatan platform. But I was born in Benque Viejo del Carmen, a hilly little border town near the Maya and Cockscomb Mountains, and across a little stream from Melchor de Mencos, a little town in Guatemala.

Benque Viejo is where my umbilical cord returned to Mother Earth, grounding me to that place near mountains. Patchacan is where I came to be, where I remember becoming, the first place I knew. My childhood places left strong imprints. I’ve lived most of my life away from them, in very different spaces, but where I was born, and where I began, explain me and how I relate to mountains and borders, maybe.

Mountains are enormous, deeply grounded, rising to dizzying altitudes. They’re there. They mean by being. You can’t miss them. I can love their distant beauty without desiring to climb or conquer them. They diminish invisible and arbitrary boundaries. Borders are boundaries. They’re intangible, complex. Around and within us, their constructs define and govern us. They’re real and powerful, yet not powerfully present as mountains are.

Boundaries create other places, other people, other lives. Aware of me and of them, I can live intimately and comfortably with boundaries, knowing when to cross, when to respect, when to forget, when to connect across them, when to take risks. But sometimes I don’t or won’t, not being ready, not persuaded that I should, or want to, because some boundaries make mountains seem like hills. That’s when I strive to know when to respect or diminish boundaries, how to ground myself, live with meaning, how to be.

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Copyright 2012 Pamela Barnett