David Olney
3 January, 2023

In my recent blog post, “Why should life be like a terraced hillside?”, I argued that people should create, plant, and build on several terraces as they explore the hillside of life. If people create terraces as they go, then the worst thing that can happen is that they will fall down the hillside a short way and land on a terrace with food, shelter, and shade. The risk of climbing higher is mitigated by the effort of building safe and enjoyable places as you go.


Several people have asked me to write more about what makes a good terrace, and I will touch on this now and write a more complete answer in a future blog post. For now, in short, a good terrace provides you with a safe place to land, and a nice place to live that you can share with the people you care about. A good terrace is productive and helps you to flourish, and, even though it is different to the hillside that it was created out of, it is still a part of the hillside and open to the wider world-beyond the hillside you are living on. A good terrace is a manifestation of your life, and it should show who you are and what you value in a way that is open to other people and connected to the world.

A couple of people have asked me whether I think they have built terraces, and, after discussion, we have concluded that they have built fortresses rather than terraces. Instead of building terraces that are still a part of the environment and openly connected to the broader world, they have erected massive stone battlements that utterly separate them from the world outside their walls.

Please don’t spend your life building a fortress.

Huge stone walls don’t just keep the world out: they also keep you locked inside a grim compound that does not change, nor provide inspiration (or opportunity) for you to grow and change. A fortress can protect you from the worst of days, but it can also convince you that the days ahead are going to be worse.

If you want to build a small, fortified tower on one of your terraces, so that you and the people you care about have somewhere safe to retreat to, then please go ahead and do so, but not at the expense of building terraces that expand the structure and potential of your life.

A small, fortified tower might be a prudent thing to build on one of your terraces, but don’t live cooped up in a grim stone tower that reminds you of everything bad that can happen. Live on your terraces and be open to the world, and know the quickest way to your tower for the rare occasions when security trumps the joy of living in the world.

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