Popcorn Medievalist

. . . for i had perceived that reality is a frightening place, and i did not wish to live there . . .

Location: Canada

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Over the Fence

A five-foot-high fence runs from Kitty Murray Lane down past the Whaley Teaching Garden, separating the Redeemer lawn from the wilder areas beyond. Today, it suddenly occurred to me: How many times had I walked by that fence? How many times had I gazed absent-mindedly across the fence into the wilds?

For four years, I have lived within sight of that fence, and yet not once did I ever think to explore the territory beyond it.

Somehow, today was different. Perhaps it was the beautiful spring weather. Perhaps it was that liberating feeling that you get at moments of peak stress when you feel that anything can happen. Whatever it was, the fence—so long taken for granted—suddenly lost its psychological power to confine. The climb was made easy by a tree that stood conveniently close to the fence; with a hand on its trunk, it was an effortless vault. Entry into a forgotten territory.

For four years, I have been within a minute’s walk of this spot, and yet this was the first time I had ever been here.

The ground is still a bit soft; it’s covered in a sparse underbrush of grass and small bushes. Farther back, I see groves of small trees. I explore the area. The dead weeds crack under my feet. I duck under the branches of the small deciduous trees—still bare, but the buds are coming out. I see a rabbit. Amidst the trees, I find five golf balls. Looks like someone’s been playing some golf. How long have they been there? Who knows . . .

The experience is memorable. But it makes me think: How many other fences have I forgotten about? How many other barriers have I taken for granted for so long that the possibility of crossing them no longer even enters my mind?

Well . . . this is supposed to happen, isn’t it? If we didn’t live within boundaries, our lives would be chaos. As we settle down, our lives become more focussed and our vision narrows, so that we can use our energy where it’s needed. How else would we ever get things done? So we take our piece and we run with it. The ideals and the possibilities of our youth are gradually forgotten.

Somehow I find this thought unacceptable. It makes me very sad. The youth in me is screaming against it; he’s still determined to hang on, but I think deep down I know that he’s losing the fight . . .

No! It’s wrong! I will not lose the fight! I will not stop believing that anything is possible! I don’t want to lose the ability to see the fences! I have to remind myself. I have to look for them. And at least once in a while, I have to be able to hop over a fence and explore the wilds.