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Monday, January 07, 2008

Sometimes, I build walls.

Sometimes, I build walls. Not literal walls, although I did build a small wooden one, of the retaining variety, for my backyard. Construction of that wall included a four-foot trench filled with gravel, a drain pipe buried behind the dirt side, pressure-treated chunks of wood cut to mimic railway ties, and steel rebars sunk two to four feet deep into the gravel and through all but the top couple of inches of the wood. That wall, despite my best efforts, is crooked, leaning on its highest end by a good four degree off the vertical -- not so much that you can see it flat on, but enough that it looks quite skewed if you peer down the length of it.

But, like I said, that was only one wall. The rest of my walls have been personal. They surround me, usually on all sides, providing a buffer, some distance from the rest of the world, from the people around me.

I built some rather impressive walls, solid, with deep foundations and high ramparts, to get through my teen-aged years. They proved their worth as I found myself subjected to the war zone of high school life. Even my closest friends really only had portcullised windows through which they could communicate, seeing only glimpses of the me that hid inside.

I withstood numerous lambastings and personal blasts from females who felt I'd done wrong. (Why did guys never try to tell me off? What was different between the males and the females in my life that the guys never felt the need?) In times like that, I could stand there, secure behind my fortifications, peering down from the ramparts at the noisome railings below. I knew that what they said, the feelings they lobbed my way, couldn't touch me. I simply waited out the storm.

Eventually, I took down my all-encompassing barriers. I wanted to -- I no longer enjoyed the isolation. Still, though, I continued to build walls. The great practice I'd had over the years meant I could hastily erect a barrier when required, buttressing and reinforcing as I went until whatever it was I felt I needed protection from had passed. This seemed to work, like I had a good system. Unfortunately, it also meant I cut myself off from a lot of people, and a lot of experiences, that might have fostered greater personal growth and development.

Nowadays, I try to find other ways of dealing with life besides piling up rocks against the slings and arrows. There are other ways -- understanding and acceptance certainly come to mind. Sometimes, too, it is better to let the pain in, let it hit you, and learn to work through it, fight it if need be, rather than never feeling it at all. There's a quote I misremember about it being better to be wounded in love than always to walk in armour. It almost seems counterintuitive, but I'm sure the idea's not wrong.

Still, sometimes I build walls.



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