• Maggie Wheeler

The Wall

What I have found so interesting over time with this blog is how differently the entries are written. This was really apparent in the first 18 months when I was trying to do it weekly.

Some would just pop into my head, and I would capture them on paper (pixels). Some would slowly gather in my mind, and I would work it out in pieces. And some would take time—the title or a main idea haunting me but not materializing until it was ready.

This blog entry has been the latter.

In the early part of the pandemic, I did a blog post and a video about letting go. We needed to just let this thing roll through and survive it. I’m an avid planner by nature and profession so I understood how stressful it was becoming to watch everything shut down or be continually delayed. Life was demanding that we learned to free fall for a while and that was the thing to do. In a situation not of our control, planning wasn’t an option and we had to just let it go until things changed.

And so my planning wall came down.

I have always had a planning wall. I’m usually burning the candle at several ends professionally (four at the moment) and it’s a major tool in not only accomplishing what I have to and when it has to happen, but also in not losing my mind. I use a planning wall personally when big things roll in. So it’s a view that I’m used to when looking ahead at my life.

But walls, real or imagined, have several functions.

We use walls to keep things in (safety). We use walls to keep things out (also safety). And we use walls to define areas for functional or psychological purposes.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see (but often hard to remember) that walls can also act as barriers to movement and change. Even if it wasn’t the original intent, they can serve to make us stand still.

As restrictions change and vaccinations roll out, we find (in my mind and what others are telling me) that we are coming up against understandable holding patterns that once served us but now must be identified and consciously deactivated. It’s part of the continuing weirdness of living through a pandemic.

And as I’ve wrestled with my own holding patterns, I’ve revisited an old truth: It is in the smaller details that the greater picture emerges.

One of the great tools of our human intelligence is to create frameworks for understanding, to make connections between sometimes unrelated ideas and migrate illumination from one across to engage and deal with another. Often this happens unconsciously, and the light bulb suddenly goes on.

As I adjust to an endemic lifestyle, I do double duty going along. First, take down the walls I built to respond to the pandemic challenges. Second, consciously comprehend the new vista open in front of me and what that means now.

That’s the smaller detail.

The greater picture comes from identifying older and larger walls in my life architecture that have also aged out, no longer serving me or the current reality of my life—the holding patterns that I was in before a pandemic ever took that to a whole new level.

Revisiting our lives, our goals, our futures as our planning walls start going back up is giving us an unexpected lens for extending that personal inventory: Identifying other, older walls within us that stand shrouded in time, seemingly permanent and eternal.

But we built them, too.

And it just might be time to take them down as well, keeping us as they do caught in a perspective of existence that has long since passed. A view of ourselves that once was true but has actually long ago been left behind. Only the wall remains.

This post wasn’t ready before now. Why? Because that particular wall of mine hadn’t come down yet. It had to wait until I made the connection between what the pandemic was demanding of me now and what hidden opportunity there was in that to apply in my life on a larger scale. Identify the walls. Remember who built them and why. Take down the ones that no longer serve.

As our planning walls go back up and we deliciously contemplate the future once again, make it a triple play. Pack up the past at the same time to then move fully into the present.

We built those walls to serve us. We’ll take them down for the same reason.

And in doing so, at a time when we need it the most, we’ll reveal a fresh vision of our lives that wasn’t possible before.

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