Monday, May 14, 2012

great minds quote: isaac newton .

On Twitter I follow an account called Great Minds Quotes and they often come up with real good thought provoking material. Contrary to popular belief, Twitter can actually be useful sometimes instead of just a social media platform for mudslinging, emotional catharsis, and internet war... Surprising, right? The one that got stuck in my mind today was "We build too many walls and not enough bridges." It was by Isaac Newton, which I thought was kind of surprising. But I think that this is all too true, both in the literal and figurative sense.

When I stayed with a family in France for a few days one of my favorite things about the neighborhood was how open it was. We also spent a lot of time outside, and even if you were inside, all the windows and doors were open (though I would imagine the lack of bugs really helped with making that possible, as there were never screens on the windows). We'd eat every meal outside, and always wave to the neighbors in the morning while eating warm chocolatey croissants. The properties were divided, but the "walls" were only a few feet high, just enough to mark the property lines.

I then contrast this with my neighborhood (if you can call a street a neighborhood) and town, where giant 10ft privacy fences are the norm, with many putting in wrought iron fences or chain-link fences, with giant gates at the foot of the drive with a passcode needed for entering. Windows that face other houses are always drawn shut with curtains pulled tight, and my neighbors felt the need to barricade their entire yard with an army of pine trees. I'm not even kidding. Probably over 100 of them, easily, lining the property. And it's not like they're just planted on the ground, they're on a 3 or 4 foot berm. Yes, on top of it. And their entire backyard is also circumnavigated by a black chain link fence. When the old neighbors used to live there, there were no bushes, no trees, no berms, no fences. What happened to that? I can understand maybe having the backyard as a bit more private space. But I don't understand why you need to build fortresses to live behind. You mind as well add a moat.

Back in the day, we used to have block parties, and as there are 3 cops that live on my street, we got almost the whole street to be closed off just for the event. One of the people on the street hosted, but we all spilled outside all over the street and lawns. We haven't had one of those in years... I understand it takes a lot of planning and preparation, but it might be nice, maybe, if we all didn't feel so awkward. I hardly even know who lives on this street anymore. I was not very lucky in that my home was not really in a neighborhood with a bunch of kids my age... I couldn't just walk next door and have instant playmates. And that's okay.

But that's only the physical part. There are gaps to be bridged, and instead of building up emotional fortresses on the edges of cliffs, maybe it'd be much nicer to have a whole network of bridges creating a web all around the area. I'm not the most outgoing and I'm not super super friendly, but I think if there was a little bit of motivation I'd be down to try.

Granted, I know I have plenty of personal walls that I need to work on breaking down, and extending some bridges of my own. But it has to go both ways in order to work -- otherwise your bridge will end with a tumbling fall to the bottom of a chasm. That's just the way it is, in my book.

5 comments:

  1. Yeah, I've heard this one before. Great quote. I agree although, I think sometimes walls are OK for a time, especially after trauma, but then with healing comes building and repairing relationships.

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