I remember that quote; “good fences make good neighbors”, from Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” since reading that poem in school. As a regular part of the curriculum we were asked to read and analyze it and I did my best.
This poem is complex and deep (as are all his works) and yet I never really understood this one beyond its surface when first presented with it in school. Young and literal, without much self knowledge or life experience, I had no idea why the teacher was so excited about this poem. Wall, no wall, whats the difference? It is a low stone wall, a mere sketch of separation. It falls down easily in hard weather and is maintained in its precarious state in the spring. My understanding had no depth; I had life experiences but no perspective or context. I did my anemic best.
As I ponder the line several decades later I now wonder about it as Frost did; “what are we walling in or walling out”. There is nothing observable – like cows to restrain- and yet we repair the wall. The wall is real, the wall is symbolic, the wall is emotional, the wall is social. Sometimes you, and sometime me – maintain it to keep a semblance of wall between us.
The wall can define and it can also protect. Understanding the difference is crucial to know what the wall IS. When considering “to whom I was like to give offense” one must INCLUDE ONESELF in the equation.
Trimming shrubbery in the yard the other day, coming up close to the neighbor’s yard the line popped into my head. This fence used to be a low iron railing and the elderly neighbor and I would chat. She passed away, the house was sold and a new fence was built. It is now a tall ‘privacy fence” and I no longer know my neighbor. I muse on that.
I also muse on boundaries and how I need them in relationships, in defining what is my business and what is not. Having a clear sense of self, honoring and maintaining the actions associated with being a separate human being is important. It also teeters in confusion when I think about being part of the universal whole. Being part of the universal whole, however, does not mean that your business is mine, what is yours in mine, that my choices are yours.
The wall does not have to be large or wide or in complete repair. There is a healthy sense of self that is important to acknowledge and a healthy sense of YOU that needs to be acknowledged; the wall is reassuring, the wall is a reminder. That, even though “something there is that doesn’t like a wall”; we and our neighbors maintain it together “and on a day we meet to walk the line” setting it up mutually once again.
My mat, your mat, my practice, your practice, my side of the street, yours, the manifestation of my ethics and your practice of yours; all are separate. Impact is mutual; expression is unique.
If I know where you stand and you know where I stand is it not more comforting? When my edges are blurred and meld with yours, move with yours, become dependent upon yours, the fences down, confusion and unhealthy interrelations can occur.
The wall is necessary until its purpose is understood. Once understood it can be considered to be useful or not useful. Its use must first be known. Then a choice can be made – to keep it in repair or to let it crumble away.
Read the poem and see what you think about it: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/mending-wall
Kyczy Hawk E-RYT200, RTY500 is the author of “Yoga and the Twelve Step Path”, a leader of Y12SR classes, and the creator of SOAR(tm) (Success Over Addiction and Relapse) a teacher certification training now available in an ONLINE study course. Scroll to the end of the page and sign up now http://www.yogarecovery.com/SOAR__tm__Cert_all.html
You may also take her ONLINE recovery infused yoga classes
e Twelve Step Path”, a leader of Y12SR classes, and the creator of SOAR(tm) (Success Over Addiction and Relapse) a teacher certification training she holds with her good friend Kent Bond E-RYT500. Find out more about her, her classes and the training at www.yogarecovery.com