First, the aesthetically beautiful example of the noun wall, that I have spent all weekend uncovering from beneath a tangle of ivy -
Then, the penning-in verb wall -
Although, in this case, it's not a wall but a fence enclosing our garden, trapping Four-legged-friend and preventing him from seeing what it is that smells so ... delicious? ... venisony? ... dinner, perhaps?
Of course, there also now exists the imaginary wall of hate - imaginary as, unlike my garden wall, it doesn't exist. Yet. Except in the head of a billionaire mogul who has promised that it will be build. But he wants the people who it will enclose to build it for him. Their president has categorically stated that he has no intention of building it. He doesn't want it and he's not going to pay for it. Particularly, after all the insults that have flown in his direction out of the clever mogul's mouth. I say clever, because that's how the mogul describes himself; the mogul has stated that the mogul is clever, so clever in fact, that he has, allegedly, challenged the new mayor of London to an IQ duel which he claims he, the mogul, will win. Of course, the duel will have to be fought online, as there is also to be an imaginary wall - this one really is imaginary - to keep all those, of the same faith as the mayor, out of the mogul's country, just as soon as the mogul is king of the castle. It sounds like a tale of playground antics, between little boys playing territorial games, in the sandpit, bickering over whose mud pie is the biggest and who has the best spade and drawing lines in the sand that the others must not cross. Sadly, it isn't. Is it? ... Oh! It is ... aaaah.
Back to my categorisation of walls. Before I get into trouble. To summarise so far: wall as noun - solid, upright, structural barrier; wall as verb - enclosing people and things; wall as something ridiculous; and now, wall as metaphor:
Metaphorical walls, the ones we build inside our heads that prevent us from progressing smoothly in the direction we want, or need to go. I build them all the time. The walls that tell me I'm no good at something, so there's no point in trying; for example, I'm too greedy to diet/too addicted to chocolate/too partial to an evening tipple, to ever manage to diet effectively, so why bother trying; and my writing isn't good enough, so I'm not going to humiliate myself by sending it to an agent. The latter is an example of imposter syndrome wall building - the debilitating wall that tells you you're not good enough and that someone will surely find you out; probably quite soon. I don't think I'm alone in this building of metaphorical walls; I think we all do it. Littlest certainly does.
She has exams this week, she needs to know enough History, Science, Spanish and French to pass, with ... distinction? Her dignity intact? With merit - whatever that means? Without disgracing herself? Or maybe, with the satisfaction of doing well in the subjects she likes? What about subjects she doesn't believe she is particularly good at ... there is one - it isn't her favourite, she finds it difficult and she knows that she won't do well in its exam? Belief in one's failings and hopelessness leads to wall building, and with each layer of bricks, it becomes more impossible to climb over the top. As a result, when faced with a test in this subject, she literally grinds to a halt.
A bit like me and tax returns. And work appraisals. And pension calculations.
Like the rest of us, Littlest occasionally builds walls deliberately; positively constructing them, rationally and with intent. These are not built for the subjects she fears, but are for the ones she dislikes. For these walls, she labours over the mortar and the precise alignment of the bricks. She doesn't want to knock them down. I could try telling her that all subjects are equal. But she might go all Orwellian on me and reply that, in her head, some subjects are more equal than others. Some deserve beautiful robust walls, others don't. And she'd be right. I see her point. All subjects are not equal. And which subjects are more equal than others, depends entirely on the person who is considering the subject list. I love History and Biology and English. You might be a Geography, Economics and Mathematics person. My kids are all linguists. I am not. Although, I may address this, as learning a language, at any age, delays the onset of Alzheimers by up to four years. Four extra years of clear thinking and wall building.
I wish I had some answers. About deconstructing walls. Taking them down brick by brick would, I think, be like giving someone their confidence back; giving them permission to have a go; to try; to find out how risk-taking feels and to start building a different structure inside their head - the bridge to a place of self-belief. I fear that what is needed, in all this cerebral structural engineering, is some way of permanently removing the bricks, so that with every stumble on the uneven path of challenging yourself, that old wall isn't built up again ...
... Hmm - gloomy thought warning: if the bricks were removed ... would the temptation be to dig a pit instead?
Happier thought warning: Littlest took a break from playing with bricks to draw this -
Clearly, the I'm-worried-that-my-drawings-don't-always-work-out wall is so low, at the moment, that she can step over it. Easily.
Irony notification; see if you can spot it - the 'mogul' playing in his sandpit ... 'mogul' definition: a tycoon; an important, influential and powerful person. Mogul derivation: from moghul, Persian; a muslim member of the Mogul dynasty. Has anyone, other than me, called him this?
ps. Yes, several people have. Himself included. Ha!