Don't be a wall

Bikram Vohra
Filed on January 31, 2020

A man was noticed walking up to the wishing wall and praying every day at the same time. When asked what he wished for during this daily pilgrimage, he said, peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind.
Then he said he also prayed for everyone's health, even fervently beseeching the Lord to end wars and strife and shower happiness on all. He said, every now and then, he would pray that crime would end, hatred dissolve into tolerance, and kindness rule the waves. Then he added that he wanted the world free of fear and stress and hostility.
So how do you feel, someone asked him, when you are going through the ritual?
He was silent for a moment and then he said: Like I am talking to a wall.
There is a lesson in this somewhere that so much is lost because we do not listen, blocking out good sense pretty much like the wall. Children to parents until it is too late, staff to bosses and vice versa, teachers to students - everyone pretending to lend an ear but nothing is going in. We are all talking to walls. Walls built by bricks of prejudice. Cement walls soaked in ignorance. Steel walls pulled up through conceit and arrogance and entitlement. Walls raised because of caste, colour and creed.
So often we have given and received the sound and yet never heard the words and lost out because one side was talking to a wall. Sad thing is that most of us are so imbued by ourselves, we do not even see the wall; it is ironically transparent and yet, so solid.
Somebody once said we are good at building walls and terrible at building bridges. Bridges are flat so we don't have the fourth dimension to acknowledge them. Walls rise above us, so we find greater veneration in height. We have to look up, not across.
Sometimes, we build walls to keep ourselves in and the world out. To keep from getting hurt, not to be bitten twice by the caprice of fate and the conspiracies of man. So we think, but if you lock the world out, then you are just another canary in a cage, captive to your own fears. And that is the operative word. You are captive. Then, even if someone knocks, we do not open the door; even if it is opportunity; so surely have we convinced ourselves that it is for our protection.
In An Unquiet Mind, author Kay Jamison says it rather vividly. "We all build internal sea walls to keep at bay the sadness of life and the often overwhelming forces within our minds. In whatever way we do this - through love, work, family, faith, friends, denial, alcohol, drugs, or medication - we build these walls, stone by stone, over a lifetime. One of the most difficult problems is to construct these
barriers of such a height and strength that one has a true harbor, a sanctuary away from crippling turmoil and pain, but yet low enough, and permeable enough, to let in fresh seawater that will fend off the inevitable inclination toward brackishness."
Even a dam is made of walls but it has conduits for a flow that could be water or, in our case, thought and deed and understanding, all of them salutary.
Have you ever sort of lain in bed at night and asked yourself if you managed to create walls and walls within walls for yourself? And if you have done so, do you even ask why? That's the problem with these edifices. You may stop the unwanted coming in, but how do you get out?
Of course, we all build temporary walls of convenience. That makes sense because we need to keep the goblins of the night out, our secrets in, our confidences and private thoughts just so - private.
Of course, we never admit to ourselves that walls are just pillars to self-deception and deceit because we hide so much behind them. We can talk as much as we like about being open books but most of us are anything but. You are not wanted. Easy, I will build a wall to keep you out.
So, when you are alone one day and thinking of this and that, ask yourself how many walls you have made and how many you actually need to protect yourself. The rest of them you should
pull down. They offer no refuge and all you do is talk to them with no comeback.
bikram@khaleejtimes.com


 
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