Expat Living, Learnings, Mali
Comments 3

on fences

Been considering opposing forces, and how to navigate between them. When to embrace, when to guard against, and how to do each purposefully.

Vigilance, for example, versus rest.


We require both, and they require equal enthusiasm.


What keeps those opposites apart? The fences that we build. And fences are tricky, tricky things.

We build fences to make sense of things, to protect, and to facilitate focus.


Some schools of thought say fences are healthy, even necessary; you’ve got to know where to draw lines to navigate a chaotic world.

Other schools of thought say fences are but an illusion, that boundaries are crutches for coping, an alternative to digging deeper and realizing the essential–and maybe intimidating–interconnectedness of things. Another pair of opposites.

I’d say fences are tools, and are at their best when acknowledged and used as such.

Perhaps most important is that fences are impermanent, try as we might to make them ever-lasting. And we don’t build them–or tear them down–alone, though we might imagine otherwise.

Mali rural village fence traditional agriculture garden man work

Fences are a collaboration, and none stay upright forever. they shift and are re-drawn, and this happens in conjunction with the relationships we construct and destruct–relationships with people, with places, with moments, etc.

Mali rural village fence traditional agriculture garden men work teamwork collaborate

So I try to use fences as a tool, knowing they ought to be questioned from time to time. Knowing they can be uprooted, or stowed away for the next season, or even used to kindle the fire of their own end.

May your fences be strong and useful, and may we know when to let them fall.

Sanamba village, south of Bamako.


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