Today I somehow got onto the thought of the walls that people build within themselves. Most of us have at least some walls–and by walls, I mean mental guard structures that we have have either set up or have inherited culturally from our parents and community that are supposed to protect us. The manner in which they protect us is that we use them to keep ourselves from doing certain things or communicating certain things about ourselves to others.
Quite often, for example, people have walls up to keep others from knowing who we are like deep down, because we fear that others will use this knowledge against us in some way. Such kinds of walls are especially useful, I believe, when we are young and moving out into the world, which is filled with a number of nasty, predatory fuckers who will try to exploit us. It is also true that often, despite the walls, we will succumb to such nefarious types–and they will get inside our walls and do us damage. Such is life and in the long run, such experiences can help us to grow my improving our perceptions about who we should and should not trust.
However, one thing that I’ve also experienced while growing older is that many of these walls that I once had, become ever more of a hindrance to learning and growing. After we accumulate more and more experiences, we need less of these walls for passive protection as our active protection system (our accumulated wisdom about evil fuckers) becomes more complete. This doesn’t mean that we will ever remove all walls, but it should mean–and it has meant for me–that I have been able to break down these walls to an ever greater extent and to become relatively more transparent and open not only to more experiences–but also to let things that would have slammed up against one of my walls and forced me to pay attention to it to instead pass on by me and through me because I know that they aren’t really anything to be concerned about.
Okay–all well and good about walls, but what are these preferences that I speak of? Well, a very good friend of mine once spoke of things that he called preferences and by that he was trying to convey certain aspects about our own individual tastes in various experiences–tastes that often also play a limiting role to our experience of life (which is what walls also often functionally do!).
To pick an easy example–some people prefer to have sex with just one type of human based on their genitalia. I, for example, happen to be a heterosexual male who has only ever been attracted to women. (Honestly, I find penises to be kinda funny looking. They may be great things and obviously can be enjoyed by me and others at various times, but oh my, are they goofy…) I have a preference for women in the terminology that I’m constructing here. Other people may have the reverse preference from me–such as gay men or straight women–they are attracted only to men. Other people, many of my closest friends for example, are attracted to both sexes to varying extents.
All of this, to me is a matter of preference.
Now, some people also have what I would consider “walls” when it comes to such things. Not only do they have particular preferences in these matters, but they also often have visceral reactions (revulsion, fear, loathing, etc) towards the idea of engaging in a different preference. This idea of transgressing this “preference/wall” causes them a deep emotional reaction that it doesn’t, in my view, need to have… or at least, these kinds of reactions strike me as being exactly the same in intensity, speed, and fervor as the kind of emotional reactions that I had as a kid when I saw something hitting one of my walls.
So, here’s the question–are preferences really just a smaller form of walls? Are they just walls that have worn away down to speed-bumps or are they something else entirely. Obviously preferences and walls can align, which can make the question complicated–but they don’t always align, and there is some part of me that thinks that we are not just tabula rasa upon which anything in the world can be inscribed. I do believe that we have certain innate–if also somewhat flexible–preferences built into us… (and by preferences, I don’t just mean sex–but all kinds of things–like whether we are introverted or extroverted, whether we are more verbally oriented or visually or mathematically… ) I do think that my preference for women is just as much a part of me as is my innate ability to do mathematics..
I don’t, however, believe the same thing about walls… and there have been walls that I’ve deconstructed that have not left any residual “preference” that would align with them. For example, I used to hate writing and english, but now I write all the time and it is my job to teach others to write. The wall was removed and the opposite preference was acquired and cultivated.
Thus, I’m not sure what to think about the realtionship between walls and preferences. Are they independent entitites or are there some built in dependencies? And, if so, what are these dependencies–how do they function?
Perhaps the answers to these questions are clear to others–but they are something that I am still wondering about…