Fence posts and barbwire tamed the West, so they say. Defined the line between mine and yours. Designed to keep these in and those out (whatever they were). Left no doubt as to who owned what.

In his poem Mending Wall  Robert Frost writes about the journey he makes each spring with his neighbour to repair the stone wall that separates their two properties. His neighbour claims: “Good fences make good neighbours.”

At one time rivers, mountains, oceans, cliffs, deserts — even gravity — kept tabs on who went where.

In our ongoing quest for safety, we continue to build walls and fences and where those physical barricades are not enough we build divisiveness with culture, skin colour, language, country of origin, religion, clothing, age, gender, species, ignorance, weapons, jealousy, anger, fear — anything to keep us and them apart.

As for Robert Frost?

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


17 thoughts on “Separation

    1. I’ve always liked this poem by Frost. Reread it recently and, like you, realized how timeless — and timely — it is. We need only look at how many people want to form their “own” country, to separate, divide, stand alone — the UK, Scotland, Catalonia, Quebec, the Kurds, the Palestinians, and on and on and on. We continue to splinter and define and separate, as if somehow by drawing lines around ourselves we will be safer and happier and more prosperous — that our troubles will disappear once we are independent. It ain’t gonna happen. Jon Kabat-Zinn summed it up perfectly: “Wherever you go, there you are.”

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I don’t worry about people wanting independence, we do need to ‘belong’, to have an identity. The problems begin when we pull up the drawbridge or even worse divide by religion, cast or some other perceived differences. I hope the U.K. will become an independent, open welcoming country.😀


    1. Somehow “identity” has become synonymous with “only me and the people who think/look/act/dress/eat/pray/speak/live like me”.

      It seems to be part of the human condition.The world, for all its 24/7 “connectedness”, seems to be splintering into smaller and smaller pieces. So enjoy your beautiful garden and I will walk my woods and perhaps in those quiet places we will find our identities there.

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  2. So appropriate, Sally, with a haunting photo to back it up. It’s fine to have fences to keep the cattle from wandering, but as soon as I see a no-trespassing sign, I am tempted to cross over, under, around or through… –Curt

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  3. It really is fascinating, isn’t it, how we “dance” between unity and separation. It seems to be one of the most human things we can do. That constant tension between “with” and “apart”… and the constant longing for unity… and then the pulling away.

    Back and forth, the perpetual dance. Like the push-pull of pistons driving our engines.

    Thank you for this post. It really fits with my day, today. 🙂


    1. And thanks for your thoughts, Kay. It’s interesting to see the impact of one’s work on someone else. Being a writer, you know that well. Enjoyed your article on dopamine/Facebook/opiods. Worrisome correlations.

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      1. Thanks Sally. Yes, it’s fascinating, how it all weaves and blends together.

        And yes, thinking seriously about the ramifications of Facebook / social media usage can have on human biochemistry has given me pause… and changed my habits. For the better, I hope. Anything that compromises our autonomy and muddies our thinking, is not the sort of thing I want to consume hours of my life.

        Life is too precious for that.


      2. I totally agree Kay — life is precious. To waste the wonder of it on electronics and digital “connections” is waste of the greatest magnitude — to say nothing of the actual electronic waste accumulating as we toss out our “old” stuff to buy the newest/latest/greatest gadget. We are strange creatures, unsatisfied with reality we are constantly looking for artificial highs. Yes, I use electronic stuff (almost impossible not to in this age) but my greatest enjoyments and insights come from my time in nature. Forests over fentanyl any day. 🙂

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