Talking Walls

Michael Onsando
5 May ,2015

We make each other angry because it’s the only time we’re alive. Not nearly closer than we can get without asking the questions that we want to ask because we are not quite sure we want to know the answer to them. We make each other angry because we want to see something, we want to see anything that is real.

Hungry for authenticity we find ways to coax it out of each other. Hungry for the truth we fight for it. War after war we have fought marching out into the fields with our spears, with our guns, with our bombs, with our words. We have fought so hard, we have fought so long. Our bodies are broken, our minds are tired, our spirits are waning.

16 year olds are studying critical theory just to understand what’s going on. I’ve talked to them, many of them. The history of this battle is so far back that the terms and conditions for life have become more complicated than an itunes sign up sheet. The rules are to be followed, the protocols are to be bound by. We’re constructing worlds for people to navigate that they couldn’t even if they had Gandalf and a magic ring.



Signs of life

Somewhere in the


Must destroy.


And this is not something new. This is not something we don’t know. In fact, this is something we know. We have given it stories “life is a game.” No, life is life. Games are games and people are not toys. People are not inanimate objects upon which to perform experiments. People are not animate objects to Pavlov. People are not pawns and you are not a king.

He fiddled

with his fingers

and walked away

‘they were not ready

for the next one’

he tells himself,

but maybe

he was not ready to hear



Voices are amplifying themselves to the decibel levels of billions and they’re still not being heard.

Voices are aware that they are in the billions and unheard. What does it mean when a thousand pins prick your skin at the same time? What does it mean to know that your pain has a community? That your pain has been spoken about, has been amplified, for eons and is yet unheard. To hear echoes of your ache from before they counted time forwards?

But this is not about that, is it? Even this is a metaphor.

The real question is, what is it to live with people who care more about imposing a story upon you than getting to know the one you have?

A moment in passing, a question that really has no answer, but is important none the less. Something even I feel weird talking about with authority, as if in saying it I have some innate ability to know something when actually, I just know how to say things.

We’re all feeling this way anyway.

So we’re making each other angry. Searching for glimpses of people’s stories when we don’t know how. How to ask “how are you” and mean it. How to be alive and aware to what is going to come in response. How to be ready to take the fullness of a being. The multilayered, contradictory, ever exploring, ever learning, ever imagining space that we all encompass.

We hide behind stories. We tell stories because we think that’s all there is “I hate my job, my boss sucks.” “you are my everything” “I’m fine” and this is a list that could go on forever. We tell stories because we think that everyone else is telling stories. A point of interrogation of the story then stops being an act of listening – as it would be, I’m keen and alive and noticed this, it’s inconsistent. And becomes a point of failing.

Questions become weapons.

The word question is derived from an old latin word (as many English words are) that means to seek. A more interesting metaphor would be (quest) the root of the word question means to journey as we all know from our gaming days, and not from Richard Quest on CNN. A quest, however, always promises more. Quests are larger than life, quests take you somewhere. If someone asks you on a quest you expect something that will come with thrill, it will take you somewhere interesting. You might not like that place (which is a whole other discussion) but you will be there.

Instead we use questions as messengers. We send them into the world gathering information to use to keep ourselves safe in our fortress. The world is a dangerous place, we have been told. The world is a dangerous place, we know. So it makes more sense to categorise and make pre emptive strikes. As a policy in war pre emptive strikes are silly, but on the personal they make perfect sense.

I mean, we all know it’s bullshit.

Later, when we sit in front of our screens, reading, watching, typing, texting, LOLing, loving, imaging, co creating – we know that we’re only perpetuating a story that we found and haven’t bothered to challenge. We know that this is just easier than doing the work of knowing people and on some level we believe that no one really cares so whatever?

(We, plural – there is comfort in numbers)

In an interesting way though we believe that someone must care. Surely, there must be at least one or two people out there that care. That care deeply enough to handle, to be okay. But on the other hand we know to trust no one. Living with the memory of paranoia is enough to foster paranoia.

You don’t need to scare someone who is terrified.

We know this. We know this is a game. We continue to play, we continue to play because playing is safe. Playing the game, we know, guarantees some level of something. But it doesn’t right? And we know that, but we don’t know what else to do, so we focus on learning how to play the game. But we’ve focused on playing the game for so long that we forgot why the game exists and since we’ve forgotten what the purpose of the game was and are intent on playing, but we’re itching to see people who are not playing. We’re itching for the people around us to stop playing (so we can be the only one’s playing? Selfish people).

We make each other angry because it is the only time we see life. We make each other angry on purpose because wars are more interesting to us than journeys. Because we don’t care enough to find out what journeys mean before we start on them and we don’t stop for long enough to consider that there is a possibility that this journey is one that we don’t need to take because if no is not an answer you can give yourself, how is it one you can accord others? We make each other angry because it’s easier than trying to understand ourselves and because we’ve been told that we’re all we’ve got and we believed that.

At what point

did the story

that he told


his life?

No one’s sure.

Except maybe;

someone’s sure.


“you think you’re scared, you should ask us if we’re scared”

Chance the Rapper

“cause we’re all stuck here,

We’re all stuck here.”

Childish Gambino

The real problem is no one really knows what they are doing. And there’s fear that, in admitting that, we would have failed.

“So many articles begin, “Scientists now have to go back to the drawing board.” It’s as though we’re sitting in our offices, feet up on our desks—masters of the universe—and suddenly say, “Oops, somebody discovered something!”

No. We’re always at the drawing board. If you’re not at the drawing board, you’re not making discoveries. You’re not a scientist; you’re something else.”

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

The space of the drawing board is a space of exploration, a space of just trying to figure something out. And a space of often being proven wrong and accepting that you are wrong, learning and using the new data to figure out a different way. You can’t be proven wrong if you haven’t asked(with an open mind, knowing anything is an answer and any answer is a point of further listening). And, if you’re not making a few mistakes then are you really trying? Without thinking of the crippling effect of all this rules. Without thinking of the frustration of every move being the wrong move. So we stand, rooted to the spot that we know is safe and build walls around us, throwing arrows at anything that moves.

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