You must build a fence

For mothers, fathers, caretakers. For anyone, really.

You must build a fence.

Make the space inside the fence as big as you can; but the more important thing is to have it be absolutely clear. It must be only pasture. It must be only free waving grasses and wildflowers and blankness. The space needs nothing from you. The metropolis of your life will be beyond the fence, built up to the very edge; but when you enter the pasture the city will disappear behind the fence, and you will hear only birds and the wind.

You must shut the gate behind you until it clicks, firm and secure. Only then will the angle of the sun be such that, no matter where you are in the pasture, the city never blocks the light.

Inside the fence, you can do whatever you want, and you do not think about the city. You know that, when you are in the pasture, the city will take care of itself. This is one of the varieties of faith you must have.

The task is to put systems in place so that when you are in the pasture the city is truly self-sustaining. You arrange these systems, and then you leave, and trust they will work. You know also that a little dirt never hurt the city, or boredom, or self-reliance. You know that no permanent damage was ever done if class cookies were store bought or clean shirts were fished straight from the basket. Or if a person said no. If you say no, in the end, usually no one suffers.

Sometimes the lion’s share of your work is simply believing in the fence and your right to it, and the right to build it well.

And if the city is in distress, the pasture might shrink; there might be space only to stand up straight and stretch your arms to the sky; but you still need to go there when you can, and close the gate behind you. If the city is loud, sick, full of needs small or large or enormous, you will only have strength for them because the quiet of the pasture has made you remember your self.

As time goes on, the pasture might grow bigger or smaller (and the fence adjustments, either way, will require effort and learning), but it must continue to exist. It is peace and equilibrium and possibility. It is the place where you are continually surprised. Even if it is small, it is infinite.

That is the place where you write.