It does not require an advanced degree in chemistry to confidently assert that oil and water do not mix. Said non-miscible potential is so well known and universally established that, its empirical veracity is metaphorically, utilized in conversation and writing. As an illustration, in order to signify the predictable incompatibility of two people it might be said,” their marriage would be akin to the combining of oil and water.”

We have recently discovered an admittedly bizarre literary (or chemical) phenomenon, to the effect that there exist words, albeit, similar in general meaning, and regularly employed in the daily American-British lexicon, which cannot be expressed in the same communication, since they are effectively, as incompatible as the liquid substances, oil and water. To bravely and clearly restate our unusual declaration, despite the evident fact, that two words may convey, similar general meanings, (in this note, they both connote, physical and temporal boundaries) the mutual employment of such words, in a coherent writing, would be totally, and rationally incompatible. These two similar, but chemically, immiscible words are, “threshold” and “boundary.”

The noun, “threshold”, traditionally, is understood to mean, “border” or, “entrance,” perhaps, to a house, or the interior of a room, or, even possibly, to designate the beginning or ending point of a landed Estate. By its nature it is functionally, an expectant word, i.e., describing a point, immediately prior to an advancement into a room or house, or from the specific limit, constituting the exact point of departure, from the room, or domain.

It is also a word which is secondarily, but, quite frequently, used to describe a new step in the advancement of knowledge and enlightenment; reporting the appearance of a predictable and imminent, precursor to a new discovery, or the final accomplishment of a solution to a challenging scientific problem. Hopefully, in the very near future, we will progress to the threshold access of a better understanding of deep space. “Threshold” is a word often describing the initial entry point to a newly, uncovered truth; or, on a personal level, to significantly attained progress toward self- fulfillment. Essentially and universally, the word, “threshold,” inexorably, and purposefully, identifies the locus of an imminently expected, forward movement, inclusive of, along the path of knowledge, development or personal success.

Our presenting, comparative word, “boundary,” or boundaries, is normally understood; and functionally employed, to refer to temporal limits, (similar to “threshold”) and to fixed and accepted lines of demarcation in reference to a physical area, or the accepted designated limit of temporal or geographical space. But, to our note’s operative point, it is also employed, to determinatively indicate, the accepted limit of understanding, as well as the accepted determination of a stagnant and developmental status quo. The word imparts, no other secondary meanings, and, significantly, promises no possible expectation or hope, to any degree, regarding improvement, change or progress; in fact, its secondary meaning and function apparently appears to articulate an implied discouragement, perhaps, even a firm direction, to desist from attempts to go further.  (The boundaries of…) Rather than the fortuitous opportunity for progress or forward movement, like “threshold, the word, “boundary” stops, “dead in its tracks.”

It is thus rationally demonstrable, that the word, “threshold,” signifying forward looking and courageous, does not, at all combine or mix, with the similar word “boundary,” its stultifying synonym.

We cannot resist the inclination to observe, that there are useful and productive members of society, who, creditably, strive for new thresholds of personal understanding and self-fulfillment, and (too) many others, who have surrounded themselves with self-imposed, artificial boundaries, predictably and ultimately, resulting in a limited and unfulfilled life and, quite possibly, much unattained potential for enrichment and the joy of living.


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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