Why the bulwark?


“1. A wall or embankment raised as a defensive fortification; a rampart.

2. Something serving as a defense or safeguard.”https://www.thefreedictionary.com/bulwark

I received another poem this week by my good friend, the Poet Mark Tappmeyer. He signs his work with (MT). His work is not empty. Rather his poems frequently evoke a stirring of my thoughts and emotions. His poems are an invitation for a “pregnant pause”. The “pregnant pause” this week, stirred me and a poem was birthed. He has granted me permission to share his poem, entitled “Defense”.

“[H]ow cleverly you defend yourselves  
against all that might do you good!” C. S. Lewis
The bulwark you throw up
with sweat, picks, and shovels
a bucket of self at a time.
The walls,
   with persistence,
with which you
encase yourself.
The guard towers you erect.
The sentries in squads
   with narrowed eyes,
   armed with blades
   and pikes and pride,
   relieved on the hour.
Even the endless routine–
   the practice thrusting,
   feigning, blocking.
The tutorials in slashing.
If you only knew  
what you were working so hard
to keep out.

                            MT (empty)

The following is the poem that resulted from the pregnant pause.

Why the Bulwark?

Fear and anxiety.

Feed them both.

Both are well fed.

Calories of fear and fret.

Fret adds to fear and fear to fret.

Fret adds to anxiety and anxiety to fret.

Neurotic obesity from binge feeding.

Is it fear?

Or, is it neurotic anxiety?

What is fear?

What is anxiety?

Are they the same?

Do both require the same remedy?

Fear has a basis, the reason identifiable.

Anxiety is diffuse.

The basis of both can be evaluated.

So it is true for anxiety.

But, it is easier with fear.

Because they are different.

Fear allows potential for identifying a cause.

I can identify an objective stimulus.

The objective can be strategically addressed.

Much more difficult for anxiety.

No objective stimulus.

I have to create or imagine the supposed cause.

Then, I have to create a strategy to manage.

The diffuseness of anxiety requires layers of protection.

My castle is unsafe.

My castle must be made safe.

My castle is very lonely when defended.

Anxiety can block all access, even the peep hole.

But, hope exists for fear.

It can be strategically addressed.

Fear can be used as information.

What am I missing? What have I created?

The only thing to fear is fear itself?

The cause of the fear may merit fear!

The only thing to fear is anxiety itself?

Anxiety is diffuse.

The only thing to anxiety is anxiety itself?

Merriam Webster has this to say:

Anxiety involves apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness,

Usually over a sense impending or anticipated ill:

Something that is not obvious or objective.

Both fear and anxiety are information.

Fear provides better information and the likelihood of an effective strategy.

It can save countless bricks, locks, keys, and other just-in-cases to protect my castle.

Anxiety will likely lead to over-design, cost overruns, and still, an ineffective defense.

The real enemy of anxiety is inside me.

How do I block me out without great cost?

I will put in another safe-room:

Another thumb print, iris scan, and voice recognition just-in-case.

Hardly utter safety.

Rather, utter isolation.

No windows. No doors.


My anxiety swells.

Worse than a Jenga tower.

It will collapse.

Turn my anxiety to fear.

Turn my attention to identifying the cause of the fear.

Turn my identification of the cause to objective examination.

Turn my objective examination to developing sound strategies.

Turn my strategies into efficient blueprints.

I can fortify my castle as needed and still maintain accessibility.

If I am afraid of the task, I have need for objective examination.

If I end up anxious, I scrap another strategy;

Or build another layer of defense.

Everyone is cheated: I am the foremost casualty.

If it is fear. I can strategize and plan.

I am protected, nobody or nothing safe is a casualty of caution.

I prefer fear over anxiety.

I can learn to manage both.

Mediocre Meanderer, Richard L. Brewer.


An added tidbit that came to my attention this week:

The Scottish minister John Baillie prayed:

Let me use disappointment as material for patience;
Let me use success as material for thankfulness;
Let me use anxiety as material for perseverance;
Let me use danger as material for courage;
Let me use criticism as material for learning;
Let me use praise as material for humility;
Let me use pleasures as material for self-control;
Let me use pain as material for endurance.