Walls: Why Do We Create Them?

By Joy Cagil

This morning, I saw a squirrel trying to scale a wall of my house.

Salamanders, too, love to climb the walls as they scamper after tiny flies.

The walls that link together to house something form the embracing arms of security.

A wall that stands alone, however, arouses curiosity.

Do you ever look at a wall and wonder what is hiding behind it?

Robert Frost said in the "The Mending Wall":

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall...”

"Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What was I walling in or walling out
And to whom I was like to give offense...

Walls have had an immense influence on mankind since the dawn of civilization. The first walls were the cave walls. Man left his first traces of existence on the cave walls as the first hint of his soul and imagination, since he created art despite his new and unfamiliar status on the planet earth.

Ever since, the walls have become mankind’s showcase. Man has made his walls out of a myriad of materials: wood like knotty pine, teak, cherry, mahogany, oak, sticks, tree trunks or logs, dry stone, cement, brick, glass, metal, plastic, hay, flesh, suspicion or sensitivity.

He has filled these walls or left them hollowed. Then, he has painted the walls drab gray or in all colors or whitewashed them. Sometimes has kept them in their natural tones; he has wall-papered them not only with paper but with plastics and other invented materials; and he has paneled them with wood and synthetic materials.

On top of these walls, he has hung tapestry, billboards, lamps, neon lights, flower boxes, paintings, mirrors, signs, inscriptions, advertisements, manifestos, photos, writing, and even poetry.

Then, after ivy climbed the walls of some of his schools, the man has made those schools above and beyond the reach of others, calling them Ivy League Schools.

As if all this wasn’t enough, man has invited the wall both in concept and expression into his language. Man walls in his feelings, walls out the unwanted, and stonewalls someone else’s offer of progress. He keeps four walls around himself, and when this becomes too much to handle for him, he climbs the walls, making off-the-wall comments. When he can’t proceed or his mind is blocked, he runs into a wall. He smirks at girls who are wallflowers standing on wall-to-wall carpeting. If he is too drunk or gets an ophthalmologic illness, he becomes walleyed.

Man has given the name "wall" to natural structures and phenomena like the canyon walls, sea walls, the eye wall inside a hurricane, walls of time, the cell walls inside his body, and many other things in his universe.

Sometimes man’s imagination and extra sensory perception take over for him to see apparitions drift through the walls. For possibly the similar reason, when he is afraid to tell his secrets, he’ll whisper to say, "the walls have ears," personifying the walls. He even gives four walls to his Pandora’s Box. Then, as a masochist, he opens that box.

Occasionally, man reveres what a wall represents, as in the case of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and the black granite wall of Vietnam War Memorial. Sometimes, man brings down a wall constructed for one reason when its purpose has run out of fashion or it doesn’t serve his purposes anymore such as the Berlin Wall. Some nasty walls like prison walls are visible. Others may be invisible, but their malicious effects are felt deeply inside the humanity's psyche like the Iron Curtain, the Walls of Prejudice or Bias, Walls of Revenge, and Walls of Anger.

Man attaches walls to everything in his life. He is the mason who builds the walls, only to protest and whine about them. Then, he tries to break through these walls or to bring them down, and for that, he spends more effort than erecting them.

This getting rid of the walls business has to be carried out with caution, without banging into walls, hurting oneself, or hurting anyone who is walled in by one thing or another. Especially in the case of an inner child who is trapped inside the man’s being, one has to break down the walls gently but with firm hands, since inner children are especially sensitive.

So, why does man build a wall? Probably, to challenge himself, since challenges employ and entertain. If only man wouldn't scrape his skin while climbing or breaking through!

For Further Reading

Joy Cagil is an author on a site for Writing.Com. Her education is in foreign languages and linguistics. In her background are varied subjects such as psychology, humanities, mental health, women's issues, and visual arts. Her portfolio can be found at Author Page
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