A tree won’t grow if you plant it in a small box; it needs space to spread out its roots underground.
In the garden, weeds inhibit the growth of flowers.
Children learn best when given space to experiment and make mistakes.
A project, idea, or business needs the space of our attention and focus to thrive. If we are trying to build or develop too many things at once, all of them suffer.
To build relationships, we must create space in our schedules to be present with the people we care about.
From plants to people to projects, anything that is to grow requires space.
This is obvious. A simple concept. Of course, simple doesn’t mean easy-to-implement. How often do we ignore this when it comes to our ideas, projects, relationships, and even the space we need for our creative and focus work?
It could be routine workplace issues, like meetings, calls, or tending to matters that seem more urgent.
There’s the obvious distractions of emails and social media, the lure of the internet in your pocket that’s available to satisfy every passing curiosity in the moment it arises in your mind.
When you’re working from home, interference might arise in the call of snacks from the kitchen, a crying child, a demanding spouse, or the drip from the kitchen faucet.
Toxic people or environments can drain your energy, giving you less to devote to the projects that matter most to you.
The interference might be of our own making.
Seduced by the false belief that “busy” is productive, we might overfill our schedules, leaving little space for working on a project, cultivating an idea, or giving our full attention to a spouse or child.
Indecision about which direction to take might lead us to attempt to develop too many ideas and projects at once, depriving all of them of the space they need to thrive.
Impatience and the desire to achieve a result on a certain timeline may cause us to interfere unnecessarily with a project, disrupting its natural flow and distracting us from other important work.
Weeding the Garden…
In the same way that we might prune the vines to allow the best grapes to ripen, we must create space for our best work and best selves to thrive by weeding the distractions, interference, and energy drains from our lives, projects, ideas, and schedules.
According to the Kabbalah teachings, this is the attribute of Chesed of Gevurah, loving-kindness of restraint, a sub-attribute of the attribute of Gevurah. Rabbi Gabriel Goldfelder explains that
Chesed of Gevurah initiates the creation of a space in which something can grow on its own terms.
We practice Chesed of Gevurah by removing interference or engaging in active interference to hold obstacles — including our own “helpfulness” — at bay.
… But Not Over-Weeding
At the same time, it’s crucial to be restrained in holding distractions at bay. Over-vigilance in our attempts to create space might cause us to mistake a flower for a weed, and lead us to pull out the whole garden.
Not all distractions are bad; in fact, the brain needs the downtime of distractions to help it process and connect the dots. Creativity and productivity are enhanced by periods of wandering and distraction.
Restraining our discipline is Gevurah of Gevurah, the corollary to Chesed of Gevurah. This sub-attribute reminds us to ensure our discipline and restraint is constructive.
Before we uproot the whole garden we would be well-served to remember that a few weeds enhance the beauty and pleasure we find in the garden of life.
This is the balance we must strive to achieve: eliminate interference to create space for growth without destroying everything that brings us pleasure and enjoyment.