I had thought that the entire Berlin wall was in a million tiny pieces. I'd seen fragments of the wall that could fit in your hand that friends had bought or received as gifts - gray cement with remnants of graffiti on one side - like too many puzzle pieces to ever be put back together. Watching the news as the people broke those pieces away with pick axes, hammers, chisels, and even bare human hands was one of the most important historical memories in my Generation X youth. Until recently, I didn't realize there are enormous slabs of the Berlin Wall in different parts of the world as monuments to history. One of these places is in Simi Valley, CA.
When I look at the east side of this wall in all of its bleakness, I cannot help but think of how this is just one of a billion different walls that humans have created for each other over time. Throughout history, people and institutions have spent a lot of time trying to hold things in, or keep things out. These walls are created when you feel that any move you make will be judged unfairly. They are created when someone does something to make everyone else live in fear. They are created when someone tells you that you cannot do something or that you are not good enough, or that or that your perceptions are not credible or that you are not allowed to believe what you believe.
Irina Ratushinska, a Russian Orthodox Christian writer, found herself in a Soviet labor camp for her ideas and beliefs. As a prisoner, Irina carved her poetry into bars of soap, and memorized the words until she washed them away. These words became books that were published later when she gained her freedom.
So, reader, have you truly found your voice?
Does some wall hold you back? If some bar of soap or scrap of paper is near you, you can start writing now, you can start planning now. If some laptop or stack of books is near you, you can start researching now. Get ready now to speak the truth - when the walls come crumbling down, your story will be told - nothing, and no one will stop you.
"Gray is the color of hope."
(c) 2012 photography and writing by Chloe Koffas - all rights reserved