Guest post: Barriers, be gone!

Guest post: Barriers, be gone!

Nobody needs me to point out that China’s Great Wall is a great wall. There are enough eponymous strip mall Chinese restaurants to prove that point.

Maybe Hadrian’s Wall needs a little more of an assist. Let’s just say it was good for keeping sheep on either side, but otherwise it’s just kind of cool, but not “great” in the sense of bigness. It is old, though, so that’s something. Historic, most definitely.

Shelley and Astell understand the value of a crate with comfy bedding and an open door policy

And, speaking of history, while I was a college-aged fledgling, the Berlin Wall was deconstructed. Meanwhile, Pink Floyd’s The Wall was enjoying continued success among disparate crowds, including laser show enthusiasts, “herbal” enthusiasts, and some people who liked both or neither.

Living in New Jersey, we still have access to laser shows and lots of herbs (this is the Garden State, after all). There is a lot of evidence of old rock walls that served as fences between estates and farms. There are even some new rock walls that are supposed to look old, but are too fresh-looking and stable to pass for colonial era.

Walls are a thing. Mostly, walls are good. Walls keep out unwanted critters (with some unfortunate exceptions — I’m looking at you, annoying little black ants), insulate our homes, and provide places to hang various artwork, clocks, spice racks, and all manner of hangy-uppy things that don’t belong or fit on floors, shelves, or tables.

Shifty doesn’t give a fig about walls, but he does love a window seat

Being the kind of person who has an excess of artwork, clocks, spice racks, and various and sundry items hanging all over the place, I like walls. Walls are useful, as indicated, and they also define spaces and establish boundaries. Again, mostly, walls are good.

Sometimes, though, walls are not so good. Sometimes, our walls are too tall, too wide, too long, too strong. Sometimes, walls become so overgrown with ivy that they begin to crumble and relinquish their former strength back to nature. Walls need to be maintained appropriately and managed, or else they can collapse without apparent warning and leave devastation in the wake of the disaster.

If you learned anything from any blog I’ve ever written before, you know that we have now crossed, arm in arm, from the literal to the metaphoric.

Soft-sided walls with zippers and the requisite comfy bedding are just fine for Valerie

My greatest hope is that you, dear reader (I do mean dear, quite literally – your value is great, and you are cherished; I promise), understand the importance of appropriate barriers. Protecting yourself is very important.

But, what happens when our personal barriers lack windows and doors? What happens when we go too far and build a fortress, complete with moat, donjon, battlements, and ramparts? Not only are we blockaded in, we’re suited up to fight. Worse, we are likely to miss opportunities. Even worse than worse, we can wind up in isolation, desperate, alone, and feeling unable to reach across our self-made barriers for the help, friendship, strength, and succor we need.

As with all things, we need walls, but in moderation. Tabby’s Place exemplifies the balance.

Officially, Tabby’s Place is a cage-free sanctuary.

In practice, Tabby’s Place is a building with walls that divide groups of cats as well as human work spaces.

Raising new walls in our hallowed halls

Contained within there are some crates and cages that are used as minimally as possible, but that are available whenever and wherever necessary. When might these cages or crates be needed? Overnight crates can be required, sometimes every single night, for cats whose food intake or other issues must be strictly controlled or monitored. Cages in the Medical Center and Holding Rooms help ensure cats who need private or semi-private healing space or intake space can have exactly that for as long as they need. Temporary crates in offices, suites, and other shared spaces allow for careful introductions and relocations.

The key to all of these cages and crates is mobility and/or collapsibility and/or temporariness. None of those walls are permanent for any Tabby’s Place resident. None of the spaces created by those walls are intended to keep an individual cat locked in or out permanently.

Tabby’s Place has walls with doors and windows, i.e. walls that open, close and lock. There are walls that collapse easily and that can be erected in minutes. All of these walls are easy to thoroughly clean and pass along to whichever cat needs them next.

It is highly likely that metaphorical walls can not and should not be passed along. But, it is important to recognize when it is time to let our guard drop, lower our barriers, or let walls collapse into nothingness.

Maybe it all starts with cracking a window or opening a door.

The next thing you know, someone will be right there beside you. And, suddenly, you will no longer be staring, lonely beyond lonely, at a bleak and foreboding wall. You will be chatting away amiably, comfortable in your cozy den, fireplace blazing with light and warmth, sharing your world and a cup of cocoa with a beloved friend.

Ideally, you will also have the company of a Tabby’s Place alum or two, happily snuggled up on your lap.

Leave a Reply