“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall” is the opening line of Robert Frost’s poem, “Mending Wall.” It is a favorite poem, especially when I remember it has been over 50 years since I first discovered it.
I can no longer recite it from memory but a few lines return, usually when I wish to flee certain circumstances. In this case, it is preparing for the first of two hip joint replacement surgeries.
The actual surgery seems less invasive than the recovery, which seems immense, involving a whole team of people for a considerable amount of time.
In Frost’s poem, two Maine landowners perform their spring ritual of reinforcing a rock wall. It keeps land separate from land. Every year nature, the magic of elves, a burrowing animal, or a thoughtless hunter manage to break through the wall, often clumsily.
Well, that is how I imagine the intrusion. Life interrupts; walls crumble.
“Good fences make good neighbors” is the belief of one neighbor while the other wonders how that could be true.
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.
(Robert Frost, “Mending Wall”)
Too often, I was the neighbor who believed in good fences. For years, I mended my walls, whether or not I gave offence.
Now, my aging fences are no longer as neat or complete. I am the neighbor who knows there is no walling in or walling out the world.
It is not good fences that make good neighbors but good manners, a respect and reverence for meeting life on its terms, to be a team player.