- At the edge, limits are made known.
- Some limits can be seen a long way off—a wall, an ocean, a sickbed already sour with death—but they can also surprise, just one straw breaking the camel’s back.
- Of course, a wall may be scaled or an ocean crossed. But be wary, as there may be men with guns on the walls. Pirates on the ocean. It’s hard to tell, sometimes, if breaching the boundary is worth the risk.
- Some limits are best respected. These belong to you, and may be recognized as climax or coda, though sometimes they are simply tip or tail.
- Some limits leave no choice. Stale breath, curtains drawn. Watery eyes are an ocean from which no one has yet returned with tales of adventure. We are still waiting for word from the last party who went that way.
- And yet, it is tempting to ride up to the edge, to steer your camels to the desert’s end. To call an end ambition. This, too, is yours. Guard it with your life.
- Discoveries are only made by riding into the sun or sailing off the edge of the map.
- Choose your map with care, as there will be different demons to face, depending on direction. Some are worth fighting, others not.
- The demons you don’t want to fight are almost always hiding in plain sight. Remember this, and keep your best woman on lookout. Steer clear of shoals in shallow water. The demons there will puncture hulls with tiny claws that let salt water drop by drop. That’s no way to go down.
- Seek deeper waters, better demons. Hope for tentacles and teeth.
Meehan Crist is writer-in-residence in Biological Sciences at Columbia University. Previously, she was editor at large at Nautilus and reviews editor at The Believer. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Tin House, Lapham's Quarterly, The New Republic, Scientific American, and Science.
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