I don't read a lot of fiction, but I've always had an affinity for utopian stories, like The Giver and 1984. I recently started listening to Divergent during my commute. Coincidentally, I also started watching "Almost Human". Both make reference to a barrier surrounding the cities they take place in. In Divergent, it's The Fence. In "Almost Human", it's The Wall. In Arizona, we know all too well about our Fence, supposedly to protect us against illegal immigrants and drug lords. More personally, the house of my late grandparents had a half wall in the backyard that was low enough for us kids to climb, and we took lots of pictures and balanced and danced on the wall so much, it became an affectionate part of our lives, dubbed The Wall. Fences and walls have strong imagery and emotional iconology. They keep good things in, and they keep bad things out. Or they keep bad things in, so they don't get out among us. Yet they are simple. It is
simpler to protect a wall or a fence than it is to protect the entire city or country it contains. And when we struggle in our personal lives, we are sometimes said to build walls, figuratively speaking. When you run and run and run until you feel you can't go any further, you are said to have hit the wall. When struggling to communicate, you say that it's like talking to a brick wall. White picket fences are part of the epitome of the American dream, at least the old one. All these analogies got me to thinking about what walls or fences mean to us.
Do we believe that walls or fences will really keep us safe? Or do we build them, literally or figuratively, or virtually (firewall, anyone?), in hopes of fooling ourselves into thinking we are safe and secure? What happens when we reveal all? When we tear down the walls and be open? We are vulnerable, yes. But only then can we be seen for what we really are. So if you're erecting a proverbial wall, stop and think why you're doing it, what you're trying to accomplish, and if that's really the best way to deal with the issue you're having.
I see this a lot in my girlfriends as they try to test their men. If a boyfriend does something "wrong", their supposed better halves will erect imaginary walls to punish them or teach them a lesson. "I won't make him dinner until he realizes what he's done and apologizes..." is the general sense of it. But that path of thinking is destructive, and only ends in pain.
Sometimes walls are built without our input; like glass ceilings. As much as we talk of equality, there are still things beyond our control that hold us down. But that doesn't mean we're helpless. It might mean we need to go a different route, or change which roof we work under completely. Sometimes it just means we need to be extra careful in certain areas, and work extra hard in others to bash the stereotypes and perceptions that hold us back.
So whether its a glass ceiling or a wall between you and a loved one, or a fence you've erected around your heart, I think its worth examining why its there, what you think it's doing, and what can be done to tear that sucker down.