Right where I stand, I can plant new ideas, pursue new creative outlets. When I stop obsessing over the wall, I began to take care of myself.
I love a good wall. As a photographer, I find myself seeking them out during each stop on my route. Their unique characteristics inspire me, and my fingers instinctively reach for my phone in order to share each find with the everyone else who has this thing with walls. I’m not alone. There are countless hashtags and scavengers hunts dedicated to this photographic trend.
Unfortunately, I presently find myself struggling with the metaphorical kind. Some days, you don’t just enjoy a wall in passing, rather, you run smack into it. And then you are stuck. Creatively, physically, spiritually. We feel like it comes out of nowhere, but if we look just a bit deeper, we can see the choices and circumstances that led to that proverbial dead end.
Over the last few weeks, I have tried to find a way to share my story with you. I desperately want the world to know everything I see, hear, touch, smell, and all that I’ve experienced, yet I am unable to push beyond this mental and emotional barrier. I have attempted to break through, to scale its height, even to simply walk the length in search of a way around. I have found myself bruised, scraped, and weary in the process.
The stones that make up this towering rampart are varied in depth and weight. Layers stack higher with each leg of the journey. One brick laid for car troubles, another for that photo opportunity or conversation that I missed. A row for loneliness. An imperfectly laid tier over concern for Quigley’s delicate health. That second story balcony with the granite gargoyle? We’ll just attribute that to the election drama. The mortar holding it all together is mixed with one part caffeine, 2 parts sheer will.
Please don’t get me wrong, this adventure has been a wonder and a joy to experience. That is evident as I look upon the wall. My friends have etched encouraging messages into the mortar as it dried, and much of the graffiti has been cleared off by the kindness of strangers. Splashed across it are a multitude of colorful murals, each depicting magnificent landscapes or significant revelations. But the good, in all of its splendor, is still part of the wall. I would love to be able to list concrete examples, or give you an anecdote from the road. But those bits of concrete are piled up and hidden inside this massive structure standing in front of me. This journey as a whole is something that will take a significant time to process. Something I am not ready to take on just yet. I’ve even avoided many literal walls this week, because they are looming reminders of my current state. Come to think of it, this is likely why I’ve been obsessively sharing plants lately. Allow me to explain…
Breaking through is not as easy as one might believe. Even the loosened stones can be too heavy to pry away in our weakened states. If you hit them too hard, you likely wind up injured, and set back further than you were before. But what are we to do?
In times like these, I must remind myself to simply turn my back on the wall, and notice the potential that is already within my grasp. Right where I stand, I can plant new ideas, pursue new creative outlets. When I stop obsessing over the wall, I began to take care of myself. I was able to see this trip with new eyes, and look well beyond what I imagined it could be. New opportunities within the project have already presented themselves. Right now, I’m simply letting my musings breathe. These ideas need the freedom to develop and flourish as they may.
The wall is still there, but it does not cast a shadow upon me any longer. I am confident that over time, these new seeds of possibility will grow lush and strong, taking root in the cracks and crevices of that once daunting barricade, and slowly tear it apart.
Beauty in the breakdown, indeed.