This morning I was sitting in my favorite chair fondling my favorite cup while slurping black liquid that was slowly forcing my eyes into the open state when I began thinking about the outer covering protecting the tree across the street. Actually I was looking at all the trees, but one in particular had my attention firmly in its grasp. The tree was slowly losing its grip on the protection that it had grown up depending on. The bark was peeling way from the trunk of the tree, as though it had been determined, by someone or something, that it was no longer needed.
Last night I spied on the moon through the branches of that same tree, not giving one iota of thought to the bark that has been falling to the ground. At the time, I guess it must not have been important. The sturgeon moon held my attention, and that was okay with me—at the time. This morning was a different story.
When I was in basic training I had a drill sergeant that had a helluva bark. It wasn’t anything like the bark I saw across the street this morning, but it was still a pretty good bark, nonetheless. He had a bite, too, but it was the bark that scared us recruits the most. I kind of upset him about four weeks into training, and his bark made my life quite uncomfortable until I was freed from his captivity, and sent 3,000 miles across country, where I met another man whose bark curdled my blood even more. Oh, life in the military. That’s another story for another time. Today, I want to concentrate on the bark of the tree. No, actually, I want to use the bark of the tree to segue into a discussion on your bark.
By now you’re probably thoroughly confused. I know I am. You’re going to tell me that you don’t have any bark. I can see that. I can hear you bark like a drill sergeant, though, when you so desire, but I have yet to see any person with bark.
Let me clarify a few things. We all have skin that, I guess, you could equate to the bark of a tree. But it’s not the visible kind of bark I want to discuss with you today. It’s the bark we don’t let anyone see, or hear, I’d like to bring to your attention. It’s that thing we’ve come to think of as not bark, but as a wall.
Just like trees, we don’t all have the same thickness of bark. Our protection is defined as how thick we’ve allowed our bark to grow—how thick we’ve built our wall to protect us from the perceived hurt that is waiting for us just around the corner. As we all know, every contact with another humanoid has the potential of delivering some form of emotional distress we don’t particularly care to deal with. Trees don’t have such a problem. Most humans do.
Here’s where you’re probably thinking I’m going to tell you all about my wall, and how it has protected me, or not, from some hurt I was subjected to sometime in my past. You’d be wrong. My wall is, well, my wall. It might be a discussion topic for another day, but not today.
Today I want you to consider your wall. Does it crumble easily? Is it too thick, too tall, or too solid? Can it withstand the onslaught of an assault by someone who wants to know, or love, you better? Do you want it to withstand the attack? Or, would you prefer to be able to punch a hole in that wall and surrender without doing irreparable damage? You might need it in the future. Too many questions for a Saturday afternoon—a day that should be spent resting up from a hectic week, not a day examining the strength of a defense that probably should not exist.
Okay. Time to open your beverage of choice and climb back into your hammock. Before you turn the cover on that book you’ve promised yourself you were going to read this weekend I want you to consider something. You think your wall is there for protection. You’ve depended on it for years. All this time you’ve been thinking that you built it as a way to keep others from hurting you. It might be time to realize that they have not been trying to hurt you. They’ve been trying to welcome you into their circle of life. Injury of any sort has not been in their thoughts. They only want to know you so that they can share a part of their life with you, and become a part of yours.
Your wall, though, has done far more than you originally designed it for. Oh, sure, it has protected you. It has kept others away, even the others you don’t want kept away. More than that, though, it has caused damage to those around you. They have not been able to expand their life by becoming part of your life. In return you have not allowed yourself the pleasure of accepting the love and friendship of another.
So, let me ask you something. Just a little something to think about as you enjoy a pleasant Saturday in your hammock. When your wall refuses to crumble who pays the price? Who gets hurt when your bark bites?
Good night, Mrs. Jackson, wherever you are.