Yearning to Harvest

To grow what we need requires a sanctuary of time and attention, a patch of ground secured by some clear, recognizable boundary that can shield us from the endless demands, choices, and responsibilities eroding our day, so we can listen, uncover what is ultimately important, remember what is quietly sacred.  Setting boundaries around what is most valuable, precious, and necessary for us to thrive actually creates a space of freedom and abundance.  Without these self-imposed restrictions on ourselves and others, we my never be truly free to plant, grow, or harvest what we yearn to harvest from the garden of our lives.

Wayne Muller, A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough

I’m re-posting this beautiful paragraph from One Rich Life (with humble thanks to Joan for sharing it)  because it seemed to me these words should be spread among us like rich, dark soil is spread over the garden.  Spread, and cultivated, and worked into the ground with our fingers.
At the beginning of this month, I wrote that one of my goals for 2011 was to “just be happy.”  As I plod through these long, dark, cold days of winter, I feel about as far from happiness as I’ve ever felt.  Reading Muller’s words, I realize what I need to do is “set boundaries around what is most valuable, precious, and necessary” for me to thrive.
But what does that mean in practical terms?  While part of me longs to “drop out” of the rat race of modern, everyday life, and head for a tiny cottage in the hills, I know that’s neither realistic nor emotionally sustainable.   I also know that I allow the outside world to impose itself on me far too much and far too deeply.  Part of setting boundaries for me will always mean learning to shake off the traces of the world’s demands to the extent that it’s practical, and live contentedly within the sanctuary of my own life and the things that are ultimately important to me.
Mostly I feel like I should have this all figured out by now.  That I should know how to create the kind of balance between work and responsibility and life which will allow me to flourish.  That I’ll know how and when to let go of the things that bother me, and stop giving them so much prominence in the garden of my life.
I think, though, that we’re all seekers – that the world today makes it harder and harder to find just the right spot in which to put down roots and grow.
How about you?  Are you still seeking the perfect balance for the garden of  your life?  Have you been able to create the boundaries you need in order to thrive and grow?  What’s the secret?
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12 thoughts on “Yearning to Harvest

  1. Again, you speak to my heart. In my own life balance has ebbed and flowed and, I suspect, it will continue to do so until the day I die. Nonetheless, I, too, expected that it would get ‘easier’ as I grow ‘wiser’, right? Reading Wayne Muller’s quote my first reaction was to be reminded of something I used to do, a routine that was almost ‘holy’ to me and around which I staked boundaries in order to protect it. When I lived in London I used to visit Columbia Road Market every Sunday, no matter what. I did this for years and especially during the time of a painful break-up did this place, and routine, become my sanctuary, my happy-place. This particular market made me feel so alive and grounded me in the present moment, every single Sunday morning. And because it was so precious to me I shielded it from other demands in my life and (almost) always made room and time for it. Going there every week balanced me more than I realized at the time. I have not found a similar routine or place since my move to the US but remembering it makes me want to find one. While this may not quite be the kind of answer to your questions you had in mind I am grateful for the ‘food for thought!’

    • Actually, it is a kind of answer, Kerstin, because your recollection helps me see that creating that kind of sacred place/time can be vital in keeping one’s balance, especially during difficult periods of life. Thank you for sharing it …I need to work on creating that kind of space for myself 🙂

  2. It seems to me there is no “perfect balance”. There’s only the life of the wire-walker, constantly adjusting, balancing, moving forward. That’s what I try to do, on a daily basis.

    By the way – I took a dive into the subject of music in my current post. You might enjoy it.

  3. If there is a perfect balance, I’ve yet to find it. Setting boundaries isn’t my strong suit; “of course, I’ll do that,” I say, blowing the free night I had looked forward to. Or, “I’ll take you there,” or “I’ll read your manuscript” — there is much food for thought here — and I have to say, I’m printing out that quote!

    • Something about the way Muller put these ideas together felt different than most of the other quotes I’ve read about setting boundaries and “just saying no.” He gave the concept a more spiritual feel somehow, and it really spoke to me.

  4. This post was beautifully written. Sometimes I think I’m afraid of setting boundaries… fearing one day my world will be too quiet. Also, I think many of us are on this search for balance so “we can thrive and grow” because we’re told that’s what we need to do. I think that’s a positive message for women… a message that my own grandmother never heard… but just because we’re aware of the question doesn’t mean there’s an easy answer. Hope that makes sense. My words feel broad and vague today. 🙂

    • When we’re young, we’re trying to advance our careers and make the most out of our opportunities for the future. As we get older, we try to cram as much into our remaining days as we possibly can. The big thing for me is learning to say that what I need is ok – not what my friends, or my boss, or my children, or even my spouse thinks I need – just me, myself, and I.

  5. Ahhh Becca.
    You might like to read this blog. I just heard this woman interviewed on CBC today and loved her pragmatic and systematic approach to figuring out how to be happy.
    http://www.happiness-project.com/
    I haven’t looked at the site in-depth but if it’s anything like her interview there is a gold mine of information.
    I have struggled for years with the whole concept of ‘making sacred’ or ‘boundaries’ or whatever the language is…
    In a nutshell, I think it’s about believing we’re worthy of it; a very charged subject when it comes to women and the roles for ourselves that we’ve absorbed from the culture at large and within our own families of origin.
    I have a system that (mostly) works for me. After spending time with someone or at something, I do a little check-in with myself and ask this key question, “Do I feel better or worse after spending time with this person?”
    If I feel energised, I will see them again or do the activity again. If I feel enervated, I will either severely limit or not go anywhere near that person or activity again.
    I know it sounds rather harsh but I believe we have a finite supply of energy.
    This is not to say that I wouldn’t be there for a friend who is down or hurting…that’s a totally different thing…but you know those people that are only negative? Gone from my life 🙂
    Wishing you contentment and joy.
    Best,
    Colleen

    • I’ve just found The Happiness Project this year, and I like what she has to say. I need constant reminders to take care of myself. Typical woman thing, as you say.

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