I Am a Rock


One of my favorite songs of all time is “I Am a Rock,” by Simon & Garfunkel. When I hear it, I hear a description of me.

I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I’ve always envied people who, at least from my perspective, seem to have no trouble opening up to others. They have many friends and enjoy spending time with them. I am not one of them. Yeah, I have several people whom I like and get along with. We socialize and sometimes work together. But, they are not folks with whom I share myself. I’ve built walls, a fortress deep and mighty.

Over the years there have been a few people that I have let in. I’ve escorted them inside of my fortress and showed them the tapestries and paintings on the walls. I’ve opened the secret cabinets holding the silver plates and gold-rimmed chalices that I keep there. I have exposed my heart to these. But, like my cat who is socially handicapped, I don’t know when to close doors. In my exuberance to be accepted I hold nothing back. Soon, I find that my exposure is too costly. Either my emotional offering is not returned or, like Hezekiah who revealed his entire treasure to the Babylonian delegation, I find my treasure plundered and carried off.

Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the words before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

One would think that I would remember this. But, emotions tend to awaken. They open one eye and gaze about. If that eye spies something interesting, suddenly they become alert and search for ways to sate their desire to share themselves. You see, emotions must be shared. They cannot exist in a vacuum. While one may experience them in private, there is always some object that they are attached to outside of themselves. Taking on a life of their own, the emotions push all other considerations out of the way and present themselves with all of the false modesty and flattery they can muster. After all, one must offer oneself as perfect so that the other person will be impressed. There cannot be any warts or blemishes showing. We cannot risk rejection. Once disturbed from slumber, however, the inevitable journey toward tears begins.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I’ve written in other places that most of the time I find the company of books preferable to that of people. Books offer refuge. They are worlds in which emotions can live safely. I can wake them and let them out for a little fresh air and sunshine. They really don’t seem to care that books are not reality. They see relationships and trees and flowers and butterflies. They are given a safe environment where they can laugh and cry. And, no one gets hurt.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

“I Am a Rock” lyrics: Copyright: Paul Simon Music, Eclectic Music. http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/simongarfunkel/iamarock.html Accessed: 8/12/2013.

2 thoughts on “I Am a Rock

  1. “…. I don’t know when to close doors. In my exuberance to be accepted I hold nothing back. Soon, I find that my exposure is too costly.”
    Been there, done that… it’s almost eerie how that phrase sums up my experience exactly. The end result, as you’ve noted, is that the wall around one’s emotions becomes even thicker. Why expose them, why show them, if they’re only going to get trampled on anyway? And then one becomes belligerent in one’s imperfection – “this is me, warts and all, and I’ll be damned if I let anything anyone says change it because what anyone says no longer matters to me” – as another method by which one hides behind the armor. If exposing one’s heart leaves it open to breaking – then refusing to hear anyone else becomes a consequence.
    Yeah, books are safe…..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *