I love a good wall. As a photographer, I find myself seeking them out during each stop on my route. Their unique characteristics delight me, and my fingers instinctively reach for the nearest camera 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.
Recently, I found myself struggling with walls of a metaphorical kind. Some days, you don’t just enjoy a wall in passing, rather, you run smack into it. And then you are simply 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.
Along the route, I wanted to find a way to share a few highlights of my story with you– everything I saw, heard, touched, smelled, and all that I experienced– yet I was unable to push beyond this mental and emotional barrier. I attempted to break through, to scale its height, even to simply walk the length in search of a way around. I found myself bruised, scraped, and weary in the process.
The stones that made 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 was mixed with one part caffeine, 2 parts sheer will.
Please don’t get me wrong, this adventure was an absolute wonder and a joy to experience. That is evident as I look upon the wall. My friends etched encouraging messages into the mortar as it dried, and much of the graffiti was cleaned 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 have only just begun to take on. I even avoided many literal walls lately, because they are looming reminders of the difficulties that come with such an undertaking. Come to think of it, this is likely why I obsessively shared plants for a time. 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 a weakened state. 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 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. During this time of processing, I have been able to see this trip with new eyes, and look well beyond what I originally 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.
Thank you to everyone who has been by my side through this process. I’m excited to say that aside from the book (which is a large task), the kickstarter rewards are on track. I can’t wait to get these into your hands. 🙂