Fences. We see them a lot...surrounding houses, along edges of roads and highways, keeping boundaries and protecting property and land from intruders. Often times, fences are built to keep something or someone from coming in. "Do not enter." Then there are fences that contain something. Fences that do not let you out. "Do not leave."
I was recently inspired by one of Seth Godin's daily posts called, "The Invisible Fence". In his blog, he alluded that fences can be obsolete, and rarely do they keep us confined. If we care enough, if we are determined enough, it is as though there is no fence.
As we grow older, become adults and meander through life, experience after experience, we all start to build an invisible fence around our life. This fence could also be called our comfort zone. It is that place where we reside most of the time. It is home, it is comfort. It is a boundary we build that contains our daily routine, our morning coffee or tea ritual, that place we always go to for lunch or dinner, or the same types of people we interact with. We start to know ourselves well. We learn what we are good at, what comes easy to us, and what makes us feel good. Sometimes we live within those boundaries for a very long time, even forever. Then, sometimes we sneak past that boundary of comfort and experience something more fulfilling and we grow because of it. It takes courage and sometimes extreme external motivation to push past self-convicted limitations. In my experience, as scary as it comes, it has always been worth it.
The idea that there is an invisible, self-manifested fence around our life is an awareness I think many of us have, or at least develop. We read books, articles and talk to friends and family about pushing past boundaries, going to that salsa dancing class we've always thought about doing, taking the plunge down a scary ski run....and pushing past our comfort zone.
I have been very aware of this for years, although not necessarily penetrating through my fence as often as I should. But I want to talk about something slightly different than moving past this commonly-known "comfort zone". I want to talk about the bigger fence. The secondary fence that keeps us from escaping too far out of our comfort zone. Does this exist for you? Today, I realized it does for me.
The realization came to me this morning after reading Seth Godin's "The Invisible Fence" post. I am completely aware of the fence I consciously try to push through in small, but manageable, not-so-scary ways. However, I am just now noticing the secondary fence for the first time, and it is oddly familiar. This fence is much higher than the first one, and much stronger. There are old carvings in the thick wood. Carvings from my childhood, from my deep past...carvings that define who I am. There is no door on this fence, no latch, no way out, only a sign that reads, "Do not leave". This fence is my deepest fear, and I am standing behind it, right now...at 33 years old.
Here in this moment, I know it is time to change my life, to break down this fence. It is time to step away from what has defined me for the past 21 years. This fence is hard to see over, and there is so much uncertainty with every new angle I take to peek through the cracks. Seth Godin says "the fence is mostly in your head". But it is not in my head. I see it right here, right now, and it runs high and is reinforced deep into the ground.
It is human nature to define ourselves, especially at a young age. It is necessary to give ourselves value and create a life that has meaning and purpose. However, this process can so quickly become a contract that we bind ourselves to, without the recognition that everything within it will change at some point in time. How can we hold true to a contract when all the variables change? We can't. And here lies the problem I have come to face. The fear of changing what has defined me since I was 12 years old. It is hard for me to separate from that foundation of hard work, passion and support that has brought me to this moment. Maybe there is guilt, maybe there is fear of disappointment...okay, there is guilt and fear of disappointment...! However, I know it is superficial.
Yoga has brought me to this secondary fence. The recognition of my true nature, at least in this moment of time. I know my practice of yoga has been responsible for this movement, however, I also know that if I didn't have yoga, something else would have eventually brought me here.
The message of this long and somewhat disjointed post is to encourage myself and others to not grip so tightly what you think defines you. I say this so much in my yin yoga classes, "loosen your grip". You don't have to let go of what you know so completely, but loosen your grip on it.
It really wasn't too long ago when I was riding horses bareback, using speed and motion to get my horse to gracefully leap over small jumps. He never would. He would stop short, almost every time and scurry around the jumps, practically flinging me off. It was frustrating and I would get angry at my poor sweet horse. Helene, her name was....a special teacher during this time of my life, and she would yell (also in frustration, combined with throwing her arms up) across the field. "Julie!! Your horse will not jump because you will not jump!"
And here...I rise, sitting high on my horses's back, holding the reins of my life.
Do we walk the fence, or jump it?
Hello, I'm Julie.
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