Everything – excluding perhaps the Universe – has its perimeter; namely, an outermost boundary. At my advanced age nearing three-quarters of a century I most certainly have mine. My training in Freemasonry has cultivated the concept of limitation captured in its iconic symbol of the compasses. Notably the “G” in Freemasonry may refer not only to the “Great Architect of the Universe” (or what commonly refers to god) but also to geometry which identifies a different association entirely; namely, that of parameters, a numerical or other measurable factor forming one of a set that defines a system or sets the conditions of its operation. Perimeters and parameters are not the same thing though they are frequently mistakenly used as such.
Until recently, use of the word parameter was confined to mathematics and related technical fields. Since around the mid 20th century, however, it has been used in nontechnical fields as a technical-sounding word for ‘a limit or boundary,’ as in they set the parameters of the debate. This use, probably influenced by the word perimeter, has been criticized for being a weakening of the technical sense. Careful writers will leave parameter to specialists in mathematics, computer science, and other technical disciplines. As a loose synonym for limit, boundary, guideline, framework, it is a vogue word that blurs more than it clarifies. Perimeter is a different word, meaning ‘border, outer boundary, or the length of such a boundary’.
The putative perimeter of one’s life is a constraint which one may not readily choose to adopt. It conflicts with the robust assertion that the sky is the limit which we all know it is not. Nonetheless many of us persist in the belief that beyond the mirage the jewel is to be found. I confess I regularly lapse into the habit (or might I say the obsession) of getting on my horse and riding off in all directions. It is normally an unfulfilling enterprise. You get there, then “Now what?” Yet we seldom suffer the imperative to live within bounds. Today however I have pondered deeply that very necessity. In a sense the acceptance of boundary is not damaging though one is haunted by the need to widen and broaden one’s scope of vision and experience, even sophistication and suavity. My present motivation for limitation is prompted unquestionably by age. For example, I am uncertain – especially when riding this new tricycle of mine – how stable and safe I might be when crossing busy highways or going up and down the least elevation. And then there are the parameters of heat and hydration. My days of cycling 100 Kms have long vanished. More importantly I have asked myself for what purpose I am required to acquaint myself with the side roads and alleys of Key Largo. If nothing else, our jaunt to the Hideout restaurant down Transylvania Avenue overlooking Largo Sound for breakfast is sufficient to quell that particular gusto. Just going to Publix to collect weekly provisions is adequate withdrawal from our confined community where I am pointedly unperturbed in my daily undertakings of cycling, swimming, sunbathing and photography.
Perched as we are within an idyllic compound begs the need to leave. More laughable is the fact that only days ago we completed a 2,800 Km run from Canada to here, having whisked through endless places (New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida) directed to our current digs. Perhaps the real perimeter is no more than an avoidance of surplusage. In the interest of rendering a charitable definition of the Masonic symbols, below is a link for those interested. I have perhaps misrepresented the speculative nature of Freemasonry by dwelling upon its operative or functional evolution. Yet my current controversy is not so much moral as practical.
It comes down to a deliberation of where to secure and vitalize the venue of one’s current domaine. An obscure recollection percolates within me; that the resistance of the nomadic or vagabond spirit has its peculiar advantages. The depth of appreciation of life derives not only from its expansiveness but also its intensity. From the two resources derive dissimilar results, neither of which is always expected or predictable.