When You Start Tearing Down Walls
Posted on September 16, 2015
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
-Mending Wall, Robert Frost
When we begin to tear walls down, we let out our gifts to the world around us, and let in everything that we were once scared of.
Erecting walls to protect yourself from things that you don’t want to feel ever again is an incredibly effective thing to do. We fear our fears, we don’t want to feel the pain and hurt of whatever happened in the past, we push away emotions that are hard to deal with and spend our lives reinforcing that wall to barricade everything out. In the end, we’re successful in doing it. We construct the grandest walls you’ve ever seen and get to look out onto the world from the safety of our fortress.
And yet, the things that walls do best end up – walling things out – end up doing something else – walling us in.
Walls are incredible and keepings things away from us, but they have a dirty little secret. As amazing as they are in protecting us…they shut us off from life. They participate in trapping us in a mental prison that is unbelievably hard to escape from. Walls numb you. Walls protect you. Walls keep you a distance from what real living looks like.
Can you live a pretty good life all walled up and safe?
But that’s not where you’re really going to feel alive. That’s not where you are going to explore. Your greatest adventure does not live within the walls that you’ve constructed for yourself. Your greatest adventure lies beyond the trees, beyond the horizon, and away from the safe harbor.
Why do we construct these walls?
Mostly fear. Fear that if you take the walls down that you will get hurt again. To tell you the dead truth – that’s going to happen. You are going to get hurt again. The only thing that I can really tell you as a guarantee of life is that things are going to change…and with change, there’s often some sort of pain that is attached to it. But that’s life. Things come and they go. Things shift and change. Things flow like the ocean.
But when the walls come down and you are open to everything, you get to give your gift to the world. Sure you stand there naked and vulnerable in front of the world letting life flow through you like it wants to…but that’s the point. Being vulnerable to the point where you can allow shame, grief, pain, courage, wisdom, love…all run through you is the gift of life. To feel everything deeply and to enjoy this life of mystery instead of trapping yourself in a world that you can control…that’s living at its finest.
My life has changed in drastic ways over the past year in the way that I’ve torn down almost every wall – or in the process of de-bricking others – that I can find. What has this done for me? I can experience everything. I can experience things the way that they are instead of the way that they “should be.” I don’t really put any pressure on the future anymore because I know that what is going on right now is 100x more awesome than anything the shallowness of my mind could see down the line. I know that I’m in good hands and that I will be taken care of if I show up and deliver what I’ve been given every single day.
That’s when I’m truly happy.
There’s no seeking happiness anymore…I let it seek me.
But the most incredible thing that has happened when I tore down the walls is that I discovered I was holding things in for such a long time that I never let anyone see. I knew that I could love others, but I didn’t know that I could fearlessly love them without any amount of demand from them on a “return” of that love. I give that without expectation…and whether it is accepted or not is not my worry. I didn’t know that I could shatter the mental prison that I was locked in for almost 10 years because of what had happened in the past. I didn’t know many things and only started to understand what I was capable of when I let my fears swim in and let my gifts swim out.
And yet, something trumped all of that…
I started to help others tear down their walls…sometimes without them even knowing it. My life changed from being focused on where I was going to what I could give to the world. I found my place here. I found what I was supposed to be doing with my life. It was only when the walls came down that my purpose bubbled up from the depths of the ocean and I found direction.
Even when I’m “lost”…I’m still directed by this.
Even when I have no idea what to do…I know.
It’s a hard thing to explain but when you go down the path I’m talking about, you will find out for yourself exactly what I mean.
So before you build a wall…ask yourself, “Who am I walling in…and what am I walling out?”
The Better Man Project