Of Walls and Eating Popcorn

Walls got a bad rap lately.

People rejoiced when the Berlin wall was torn down.

The US President promised a wall between them and Mexico. The world groaned.

The pandemic forced us behind walls—physical and social— leaving us isolated.

Sanctions and trade barriers. Tariffs. Racial discrimination. All walls really.

The list goes on.

It feels like more and more are going up all over the world every day.

Will it ever stop?

Have you paused to consider the benefits a wall can bring, though?


A well-placed wall can bring physical security (keeping us safe in our homes at night), social skills (not getting involved with certain people or topics of conversation) and even mental peace of mind (when I stay above the line I know I’ll have a good day).

As far as the social goes: We have a saying in our family:

'Are you watching the movie or are you playing in it?'

I had to learn how to use it: When in a conversation that starts getting under your skin, you need to ask yourself whether you are part of the conversation, or really only an onlooker. If you have decision-making power in the conversation, by all means participate. If however you are simply participating to give an opinion, or worse even to simply gossip, a better behaviour would be to start watching the movie. Best would be to start eating imaginary popcorn as well!

When you eat popcorn your hands and mind—and especially your mouth!—are too busy to speak. Right? It will keep you safely behind your wall.

My Mom-in-law and I use this all the time when we speak on Skype (she has not discovered Zoom yet). I’ll simple start making the motions of eating imaginary popcorn when she is describing some intricate family social interaction. She knows I’m dying to make a comment, but I’m choosing not to. It makes her chuckle. It keeps me out of trouble. My wife loves me for it.

Business-wise walls are very important too. A while ago we were discussing the social purpose of companies. Masonite’s statement was lauded as a superior example. This door-manufacturing company’s purpose statement reads as follows: WE HELP PEOPLE WALK THROUGH WALLSTM. Not just physical walls by providing a door, but also through walls and barriers that stand in the way of us being our best – both as a company and as individuals.

Your question to consider this weekend is where in your personal, family and work life you need to give attention to either putting up a wall, or to put a door into an existing wall. Sometimes a window can work wonders too!

Where do you need to protect yourself, and where do you need to let your defences down?

With good boundaries in our lives, we are able to enjoy life and one another more.

Soon the joy will follow.

Best wishes,
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