“A line in the sand is, metaphorically, a point beyond which no further advance will be accepted or made.” That according to Wickipedia, and probably all other phraseology references. I would like to take a closer look at that notion. Certainly the historical attributes all come from a time when there was more sand than cement, and almost all are quite naturally conflict (read war or battle) driven.
But perhaps we should focus on the reality of sand, which some comments do. Sand drifts. What was clear when I drew it, is gone in the overnight shifting of the winds and tides. Could we understand drawing a line in the sand as illustrating the determination of the moment?
Compare that literally with the sentiment of “fixed in concrete” or from an earlier time, “fixed in stone.” Could the action of drawing a line in the sand be saying: “not now, not yet”? What a startling difference. The line becomes simultaneously a boundary and an invitation to continued negotiation.
From that point of view drawing a line in the sand becomes not an act of defiance, nor is it a threat of retaliation. It is in its simplicity, an act of clarification: “I’m out of options, I cannot agree with what you want; I feel deceived and betrayed and need to back up; do not push me any further, I cannot and will not be moved,… yet.” With that in mind, perhaps some of the desperation that comes from intense disagreement in the work place or the home can be softened, and like a line in the sand, shift almost imperceptibly over night.