In his book Sabbath, Wayne Muller shares a story about his garden.
Each year just as the tulip leaves started to sprout, they would disappear. Jackrabbits would eat the leaves before the flowers could bloom. On the advice of the local nursery, he erected a small fence around the tulips. This was enough to deter the jackrabbits, and once the fence was in place the bright colored tulips bloomed.
Sometimes it is necessary to stop one thing before another thing can begin… The fence was a simple prohibition against harmful activity. As soon as the harmful activity was prevented, something in the ground, waiting patiently to be born, could grow.
A fence is a boundary. It signals to the jackrabbit that it cannot enter.
A jackrabbit may be easily deterred by a fence; humans are not always so easily dissuaded. Ever since the first limits were imposed in the Garden of Eden, humans have tested the limits of prohibitions and boundaries.
We are resistant to anything that we perceive to limit our “freedom of choice.”
A common theme among many of my clients is “optionality” — the ability to preserve all options for the future.
This fear of limiting options and cutting off potential opportunities can prevent us from saying no to people or projects that are harming us now. I’m not talking about physical harm (although if that applies please seek help and get out now); we often overlook other forms of harm, like emotional, mental, energetic or spiritual.
Strong boundaries are necessary to create space for our best work, to help us show up at our best and bring our full selves to our projects and the people we serve.
A boundary may be a simple rule like “no email or online activity before noon” (one of my personal rules), saying no to a potential client who isn’t aligned. Setting a boundary may require cutting out people from your life who are draining your energy or who you simply don’t enjoy being around.
Whenever the seeds we plant aren’t sprouting, it is likely that we need to create better boundaries to keep out the energies and agents that are harming the soil or the plants.
What fences do you need to build to reduce the harms in your life and create space for the seeds of what you truly desire to bloom into being?