When you consider barriers in your mind and heart for the purpose of protection from the illusory risk of being hurt or disappointed, you eventually arrive at a crossroad. When regret over the moments you forgot to live intersect with the art you failed to create, the souls you missed to touch.
Something inside slams the life out of you. Your face is smashed against the stones.
In time, walls absorb warmth and dehydrates the health of human vibrancy and a passion for discovery, the willingness to learn. It sucks the all color out of your elevation, dulls the tastes in the mouth; the art you once created withers into gray muck.
Apathy crowds out empathy with each new brick.
The process occurs in great stealth, like absorbed vapor; slowly the walls drain life’s air from who you were before the shit bag of who you are (but it’s not who you really are.)
Walls destroy iterations of all that’s noble in you. The “you” back to childhood – when you were a sponge and innocence opened doors to enrichment (and a few worthy bruises).
Eyes wide closed. Blind in the dark. Blinder in the bright. Full steam forward, head down, guarded.
Void of passion.
Oh, the hours, the years, the efforts to create what you believe keeps you safe.
Until events outside your control (and those subconscious within).
Rock the foundation.
And reveals the wall for what it is.
The first crack in the wall rocked me good. I was sad to realize – I was living a sham. Lifeless corporate job where my sense of well-being was uprooted by assholes in ivory towers almost on a daily basis, an unhealthy infatuation with people I wouldn’t give a second glance at today, and too much alcohol to dull the bullshit, made it palatable.
I was running from pain. At least I thought.
Part of the agony came from the growing realization that I was needing to break free, get my life back, to survive and thrive for whatever years were left.
I helped myself as much as possible with mental stamina I absorbed from the energy of others; people no longer in my life were efficient wall destroyers, too. I’m thankful they were there to take pick axes to it.
However, as I live in peace, I’m grateful every day they’re gone. Ground to dust and cast to the winds of the past.
They no longer effect me.
All the precious energy wasted building and reinforcing structures that had one mission – to live and destroy the builder.
I’m still not sure about the genesis of the angst. Why or when do people decide to chip away at their wall beasts? The chisels, the motivations are different for everybody.
A shock perhaps (for me it was).
A morbid curiosity of what life would be like outside high walls.
The right teachers come along, awaken you, assist with the deconstruction?
How much of yourself does it take to turn massive fortresses to stone and then grind them to dust?
How many times must you crush who you were to form a greater self that awakens in the present?
How much of yourself will you lose in the process?
Are you up for the job?
Every chip is a strand of DNA, attached to a part of who you were. And the rubble keeps piling up. Unsettling grit underfoot. The foundation is no longer smooth; the road is covered in rough-busted remnants.
You are troubled by the feel of gravel underneath.
An unsteady path wobbles your resolve.
But you must not stop.
Because to look back is to choke on the dust of vulnerability. Of failure.
It’s a fucking wonder there’s energy left for anything else you know – like working, or checking your e-mail.
Cut off the oxygen, sever rotted death lines, birth new life threads, and ultimately – a healthier way of being emerges.
A cleaner intake. An enlightened outtake.
Dying along the way is the ticket to a stimulating ride. Sucks.
But that’s the way it is.
Unfortunately, not many are up for the toll it takes on the body, or the weight of the job on the mind. Too immature or self-centered – they’re missing the emotional quota to get smashed by their own stones, pained by the gravel they don’t have enough guts to stumble over, too.
They’re too full of hubris, cowardice to breathe in the dust and puke it up.
Also, I admit – it’s difficult.
I was thinking:
Where does it say that everybody you encounter needs to tackle this fucking monster wall to get to the deep of you? You crush anyone who goes near it yet you seek someone to crack the code, find the weak spot? Confusing and exhausting.
What forms this barrier to entry?
How high does it go?
Who created this rule?
My grandmother, when something was beyond her comprehension (or outside her little Brooklyn neighborhood), would say to me:
What seals this wall beast?
What makes up the mortar?
Oh, I don’t know. It’s a different blend for everyone. I think it’s rejection, disappointment, misguided conclusion, overthinking. Projection. Abandonment. Fetishes of sorts.
Blast-furnace in another quarter of trash from the past you thought was long dead, and watch how you lose control over the entire project.
And you’re gonna need a bigger bulldozer.
To smash your creation. Eye-opening, earth-shattering heavy lifting to get deep underneath this structure, uproot and topple it.
When the dust settles (and for me it took roughly two years), you’ll be thankful for the project. As the wall comes down, second chances emerge.
Relish each tragedy, every revelation; appreciate the loves won and lost. Your choice and challenge is to either forge the masonry or knock out a stone, look through the hole and observe the beauty beyond the barrier.
Consider these ten ways to grind your way to a better life.
1). Tear down walls, erect sails. Create a structure that’s light and captures the air of your passions and creativity. Sure, even an ill wind may throw you off course a bit, however, unlike a wall, a sail will not allow you to stagnate. It won’t close you in. A great challenge is to navigate your course and learn when to expand or contract your sails.
2). Replace heavy bricks. Replace impenetrable bricks of sorrow and regret with a willingness to be open and pliable. Anything that will allow you to see farther than you have before and feed your resiliency is worth the possible risk of hurt. Living within the boundaries of the past to guide present actions will suffocate your rebuilt childlike quality of promise.
3).Take out assholes. Then work diligently to discover and value teachers who will fill mind holes. As walls are razed, it provides openings, even through the dust, for mentors to enter space once occupied by fear and denial. Once your teachers begin to invade, dangerous structures become less menacing. They weaken and crumble at a faster pace than you can accomplish alone.
4). Take risks of the heart and say “fuck it” often. Now that walls are falling, your heart is out there. No protection. Exposing a vulnerable self to others is throwing yourself in front of an emotional bullet; a pure act of love. Consider the act a peace offering to those in your world and ones you seek in your space. It’s not going to feel warm and fuzzy at first.
To evolve in an age of soullessness will never feel right, initially. What ostensibly makes you at ease will always take great courage.
If you make an error in judgment (and you will), consider how resilient your heart truly is. I have learned that the heart is a bottomless well of love and commitment.
5). The words you use mean everything. At one time, I would invite words that formed at the foot of the wall and bled into the foundation. Defeatist sentences that only served the wall and never served me. I’ve noticed the word “why” weakens my spirit. It promotes a victim behavior. “How” is empowering. Ask yourself better questions with positive words and see how your thoughts take you down roads no longer confined by false boundaries.
6). Take a wrecking ball to conventional thoughts about money. Saving all your money in company retirement plans instead of brokerage accounts limits tax flexibility when you need the money the most. It’s financial industry dogma. Why must you purchase a house? How is it the American Dream? Is it truly an investment or merely a place to live?
7). Create and maintain accountability statements. I will be credit-card debt free by January 2015. I will learn a (specific skill) by December 2014. My internal walls are slated too fall today. Right now. Be accountable to the moment you’re in. What it means. How you got here.
8). Find a force. What can you do to turbocharge a positive process? I’ve used anger, fear, passion, revenge, love, faith, hope, hopelessness, laughter, teachers, students, clients, wonderful friends in the media and those creating art for award-winning television fiction/drama. Suck whatever energies you can to propel you forward until you’re a self-sustaining accomplishment machine. I’ve learned that good people are willing to help. To ask for help is a wonderful force. It’s strength, not t weakness to seek guidance. Provide as much gratitude in return.
9). Build protection. Wait a minute. You just advised me to break down walls. OK. One exception: Build layers around your passions. Do it so others can’t discourage you. Protect your resolve with all you’ve got. I’ve observed how many people and organizations bust out the big artillery to focus solely on the destruction of your dreams. They thrive and multiply on failure. I have learned to tune the destroyers out so well, I laugh at their silliness. So will you. I can’t wait to see the smile on your face.
10). Relish what’s in store for you. Can you imagine what’s ahead without debilitating speed bumps and barriers to stop you? The influential people you will touch, and who will touch you. The elevation of mind and spirit. The long-dead exhilaration that comes from resurrecting your true self. The stronger bonds of love and friendship. Like you have never imagined.
A castaway of dead souls.
More “fuck you” in blank faces.
You’re taking “auto” out of “pilot” now.
Fully engaged in the present.
Take the wheel now, squeeze hard.
Feel white-knuckle excitement.
Plow pedal-down fast through what’s held you back. Beat you down.
Watch the dust dance as you create a path of your own.
Observe how the losers choke on it.
And laugh, laugh, laugh.
Dedicated to Amy Bishop.