Something my husband and I have often discussed is how hard it was to have personal boundaries when growing up in a household with a lot of kids (he is one of twelve so he should know). As one of four kids I may not have had it so bad, but I still struggled with trying to establish an independent identity within a tight, at times dysfunctional, but mostly loving family dynamic.
When I was a little kid I was (like most American children at the time) a huge fan of the Monkees. I only got to experience the tail end of the Beatles just when they were breaking up—I went to see “Let it Be” in the movie theater when I was too little to really dig it. The older kids may have had who’s your favorite Beatle? , but we had a similar who’s your favorite Monkee? Not as cool, perhaps, but still….
While my sisters and my friends were swooning over Davy Jones, my favorite Monkee was Peter Tork. Like George Harrison, Peter Tork was the “spiritual” one, the sweet simpleton perhaps, but I could relate to him, plus he wore psychedelic banded collar jackets, and had his own personal guru.
One clip I watched from the late 60’s (maybe in the film Head? ) where Peter Tork said that he like to escape from the cheering crowds of adoring fans by wandering in the woods alone. I remember as a kid thinking to myself that Peter Tork really understood where I was coming from. It validated my own practice of escape.
Sometimes the woods surrounding my house was my only refuge from the insanity of my family, the only place where I could soothe my nerves. I still take a walk in the woods nearly every day just to de-stress and to reset my boundaries whether it’s from people (well-meaning or not), work, the ubiquitous screens, or just the general “noise” of life.
Something I am learning about setting boundaries is that no one else can dictate where they are and that it is my job to be vigilant about maintaining them. And they don’t require explanation.
In creative work, it is crucial to set boundaries because creativity requires a lot of focused energy and time. The extroverts among us can write in a crowded coffee shop because they feel energized by the socializing happen around them; it fuels their ideas.
I am the complete opposite. I enjoy socializing, but when it gets to be too much I need to pull a Peter Tork, paint a flower on my face, put on my love beads, and become one with nature.
Then, hopefully refreshed and refueled, I can rejoin the human race. Peter, if you’re out there, thanks for being you.