Day Eleven. Good fences make good neighbors.
With all the rain (today was yet another soaker) I discovered a rather quick way to dry your socks (well not YOUR socks, I mean my socks). It's important that you have fairly dry feet even if it's raining or if you sweat a lot, so each day those socks have got to be cleaned and dried in your room for the next day. And when it's raining out they don't dry vey well. So voila, the hair dryer technique for socks. They capture the hot, dry air very well, and they dry really fast. (It also works on your underwear but I'm not showing you any pictures of that.)
My socks are special: they're actually double socks, an inner one and an outer one woven together. It's supposed to protect you from friction of feet to shoes, which produces the dreaded blisters. For me, the socks are part of a whole system on which I have spent a bunch of euros. I've tried to erect a defensive wall around my tender toes, and there are many lines of defense: the socks of course, but then some moleskin, some high tech plastic stuff called Compeed which look like clear-plastic bandaids that are applied directly to toes, heels, bottom of feet, etc. (they are really too darn expensive), and finally Vaseline and other foot creams. Despite my protective walls, my toes do eventually start to emit protesting pains, and I have to stop and give them a rest. The walls only go so far in protecting them, I guess.
I've been thinking a lot about walls these days, mostly because like today in the rain, I am passing them all the time. The walls here are big stone things, and many of them look ancient. I have stopped many times to look at them, and I often speculate how many years ago they were erected, who built them and why they were built in the first place. Some reasons are obvious--to keep something or someone in, or out. I've seen bunches of walls around places where animals live. I assume they were built to protect sheep from wolves, and cattle from rustlers, as well as to make sure they don't run off in the night. There are other walls built to keep people safe from animals. Just today I was viciously barked and leapt at by some biiiiiig dogs, and I like dogs, but not ones who are threatening to tear me apart. One huge German shepherd really scared the crap out of me because I didn't even see him, and I'm sure he smelled my fear because I sure did. I was very thankful for that wall.
But walls seem to have been built for human defense as well. Defense against marauders (or as we say today, house invaders). Last year I worked on the crew of a film set in Puerto Rico, and it seemed like every neighborhood was a gated community. I was told that it is necessary to prevent crime. Like in medieval times when they built walls around entire towns, we still build walls for our physical protection. But walls serve to defend against subtler human threats: to keep out the riffraff, and protect us from offensive things. Other walls simply seem to be saying 'this is mine, not yours'. So mind yourself, and don't let your tree branches grow over my property line. And finally, it seems that walls give you privacy. You can be yourself, let all the pretenses go, do things behind your wall without judgment because nobody can see. In this beautiful land these are thousands and thousands of walls, and they have been here for generation upon generation. But to keep them up takes a lot of work, and a lot of energy. Mother Nature and time conspire to break those walls down.
Robert Frost wrote a famous, wonderful poem about two men who had a wall between their neighboring properties. It's called "Mending Wall" and the story of the poem is that the neighbors meet annually to make sure their wall is intact. The earth continually sends frost and water, and the wall heaves and bursts and continually wants to fall. But one of the men begins to sense that there is really no need for the wall anymore, with no animals to keep in and no real threats to keep out. He suggests that the wall be taken down, but his friend can't get out of the mindset. He then ponders what is in his neighbor's mind:
"...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 see him there, (his neighbor)
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.”
I don't know. A wall can do a lot of good, but it also prevents lots of things from coming together. And or course it's the same with the human heart. I've had lots of time to think about my life in these days, and it's interesting to honestly look at how many walls I have put up, and how many I have tried to take down. It certainly feels a lot better at times when I knock one down and discover a friend or ten waiting there on the other side for me.
I'm ready to leave the rain behind, it certainly is getting me very introspective! I'll have to pray to my mama tomorrow to see if she can help out!
Have a nice weekend!