03 Apr The View
As I was running outside last week, I was admiring all of the beautiful houses and yards to my right and the amazing view of the river valley against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. At one point I came across a yard that was beautifully landscaped but was surrounded by large, thick bushes and hedges. As I admired the yard, I found myself wondering, “why would anyone want to obstruct such a beautiful view? I wonder if the owners know what they are missing.”
I know that with a walkway behind the yard, it feels more comfortable to have privacy and prevent others from being able to see you in your yard as they walk by. I too live on a pathway, but my life is much richer because I do. You see we all have chain link fences, even between our houses. My neighbours and passers by can see me drinking my coffee in the morning in my housecoat on the deck or grilling steaks on the BBQ for dinner. They can see me as I play with my kids and they witness many of my bad parenting moments. Sometimes it does feel a little uncomfortable, but the trade-off is priceless. We all come from different backgrounds and upbringings. We all have different stories to tell. We don’t all parent our children in the same way or even value all of the same things, but we have built strong, beautiful relationships. I often comment on how blessed we are to be so close with our neighbours, but this week I wonder how much of that we have cultivated ourselves. Being open is vulnerable, but it also connects us. Our neighbours are family.
The practice of mindfulness includes taking a stance of openness to the world, allowing ourselves to experience all that life has to offer. This includes pleasant and unpleasant feelings and experiences. It is what allows us to connect with ourself, others, and the world. And it allows us to experience life in its fullest. Building hedges or fences often seems more comfortable. We convince ourselves that unpleasant feelings are worth avoiding and that people would not be accepting of our authentic self. In therapy, I have talked with many clients about how the walls or fences we build prevent us from relationship with others. We were created for connection. Fences not only prevent us from relationship with others, but I wonder how they obstruct our view. As we close ourselves off from others, telling ourselves we are protecting ourselves, we miss out on all that the world has to offer us. So what does your yard look like? Do you have tall fences or hedges surrounding your home so that you can prevent people from seeing you or you can avoid unpleasant feelings and experiences? Have you ever thought about how being more open and vulnerable might change your relationships with others and your experience of the world? I encourage you this week to try and find one practical way you can begin to trim away some of those hedges. You don’t need to do it all at once. Share a weak moment with a friend, be honest with someone when they ask how you are feeling, or allow yourself to stay in the moment with a difficult thought or feeling. You might be surprised what you’ve been missing out on.