It was a good few years ago now that the council dug a tunnel under the motorway and railway to allow cyclists a quicker route from the north of our village to the south. This reduced my journey from over a kilometre to one that is a lot less. My allotment is within 300m of my home, it’s just that there’s a double track railway and a six lane highway in that space along with a minor road. Not the kind of thing one wants to cross on a dark night, even if it were possible what with all the barriers they’ve put up. Thus a tunnel was a welcome addition to our village.
At the same time they re-paved the car park and provided some hard standing for lorries that might be needed for servicing various electrical installations that have to do with the motorway. I happened to meet the surveyor and suggested that a path could be made between the cycle path and the car park, thus reducing the journey yet further. I showed him where this was with my finger. His eyes brightened in recognition and he drew a pencil line across where I had described my path. “Great idea,” he said. “We’ll put a fence there.”
The point being that he’d decided where people were allowed to go and was not going to allow anything else. The pavements are there to be walked on, the roads to be driven on and people should recognize this fact. The council spends a great deal of money providing these things and it should be clear to all that we should be grateful. What’s more, in a local version of the ‘Faculty Lawn’, people aren’t allowed to walk on the grass.
Thus it was that in 2013 my fence came into being as the carpark was completed. Here’s a photo of it. Note that it only goes as far as is required; the step from the lane to the higher ground is more than is allowed under EU regulations. Thus a bureaucrat knows that the members of the great unwashed will not want to step up this high because the bureaucrat wouldn’t. The other end of the fence was sufficiently far away as to deter any bureaucrat from wanting to take this shortcut.
Please note that we are working inside the comfort zone here. Everything that is done fits in with how the bureaucrat sees the world – and in that he can’t see anything else, nothing else can happen. Period.
He wasn’t reckoning with my ex-partner Brian who being English, sees fences as something to have a go at.
Bureaucrats sit down and read their newspapers and drink coffee, and imagine this is what doing work is all about. Bureaucrats do not go lifting their legs to overstep a low fence. Fences are there to keep bureaucrats safe and it would be beyond them to think of stepping over one… thus it never happens. For the bureaucrat, this is a fact because they never saw it happen. All this time the Dutch dog walkers just walked around the far end – but this didn’t happen either because the bureaucrat never checked to see if his fence was doing the job it should have. He just assumed that because it was there, it was doing what he expected it to (1).
Nor would they believe my photograph because the fence disappeared last year, having fallen into disrepair. No doubt someone came along from the fence repair department and wondered why the fence had been put there in the first place. In realizing that it was doing nothing, it was cleared away.
I have no doubt that the surveyor who saw its construction has forgotten about it. People who put up fences are not the best at remembering things. They don’t need to: the things they do are done and work in the way they intend them to. No need to check, no need to look back and certainly no need to remember!
Fear And The Fence.
Fences are most commonly used to say “this is mine.” It means that it is quite clear who owns what and that nobody else has any right to enter. It was in the late 18th century that the so-called enclosures began to disrupt the life of the common man. They farmed as they always had, and got along somehow – and did so without the need for fences.
It wasn’t a nice year when the common man found that their commons had been fenced in and were now grazed by sheep. The new owners weren’t worried about the common man, and weren’t looking. They knew that their fence was there and thought no more about it.
Which is the point of this post: what lies beyond a fence is rarely thought about. Well, at least in the case of those who put up fences. But then, they aren’t aware of what fences are for, they just see them as necessary and think no more about them.
Which is how the comfort zone works. People have boundaries in their lives that are the metaphorical equivalent of fences. This leads to the “us” (those who agree with them) and the “them” (everyone else). Naturally, those who are in the “us” camp are nice and everybody else is nasty.
You see, it hurts to be told that your (metaphorical) fence is in the wrong place. It means that you are wrong. In a world where you can only be right this is something of a problem! Your fence is there and always has been, how can it be wrong? The paradox of the metaphorical fence – that is to say, the psychological fence – is that most people have never considered their own fences. Given that they’ve never needed to consider them, this means their fences don’t need to be considered. As mentioned, the extension of this is that they imagine everybody to think as they do. They haven’t ever considered the position of those they have deemed to be wrong.
That they exist at all ought to imply that not all is well in the State of Denmark. Even so, most people go around assuming that they’re right and everybody else is wrong. The worst part of this is that few of them are aware enough to be able to grasp the reality – after all, the reality means their own defences, their own fences, are wrong and that hurts. As good a reason to continue imagining what one imagined previously. That at least doesn’t hurt.
Ring-Fencing The Comfort Zone.
I’ll add that those who have access to my private blog will have the awareness that allows them to realize where their own fences are. This stands as a warning to a friend of mine who is both highly gifted and following much the same path as I, in that this friend is trying to find a way to show people how to deal with their fences. But that’s why we’re friends: she might succeed where I have not. If she succeeds, I want to know how she did it because I’ve been banging my head against this brick wall for far too long. And brick walls are just harder, higher fences that are less easy to penetrate.
I want to remind her that this is a process that is necessarily painful for the patient, and in that it is painful means that most patients prefer what they have already. Breaking – and that includes the preparatory stages of softening – the boundaries of the comfort zone are painful. They have to be because awareness of things one was not aware of before will first show you where you were wrong.
But that’s why we have a comfort zone in the first place! It’s not to sit in and watch the world pass by, it’s there as a respite from the world when we’ve spent all our energies engaging with it. We all need to sleep: it’s nice, cosy and unthreatening. Only in being the ultimate in comfort zones, at the same time we also lose all our consciousness. The ultimate comfort zone is unconsciousness, and that is what Alzheimer’s is all about. The problem with Alzheimer’s is that people actually want it because the alternatives are too painful.
When I tried explaining this to a Swiss counsellor on Linkedin, she blocked me. Her job was to tell her clients that Alzheimer’s was a disease that people catch, and there’s nothing they can do about it. But then, this is only telling her clients that they are correct in not wanting to accept painful realities… and thus the counsellor actually aids her patients towards some form of dementia! She thinks she’s healing when in fact she’s making them ill.
Blocking As A Metaphorical Fence.
This kind of behaviour is typical of someone who cannot – will not – accept that truths inevitably mean examining one’s own self. Someone like me will appear as a threat: I show her that she is wrong. Since she can only be right, this means that I’m wrong – only someone like me can take things to the core of the issue with remarkable speed. The Archangel Michael’s metaphorical sword of light pierces the dragon that lies buried in her subconscious. Blocking me allows her to continue her life and leave her dragons unmolested.
It’s how dragons like their life.
The problem here is that she learns nothing. All she can learn is what she is capable of learning given the size and scope of her comfort zone. Any threat will be met with another fence being put up – and that will of necessity make her comfort zone smaller. Do that for long enough and your consciousness is eroded.
We All Need A Comfort Zone.
Well, we do. It’s there to allow us to re-establish ourselves after the shock of meeting the world. We are here to learn, and that means learning the painful truths – some of which will inevitably mean we make mistakes. That’s life, and that’s why Christ made his intervention in human evolution. If you are not forgiven by someone you have offended, then Christ’s forgiveness stands in its place. The most important thing is to reflect on why that deed was a mistake and to change one’s ways in order that one might be freely creative yet do no wrong.
Doing wrong is what people do when they know no better.
How then are they to learn if they put up a barrier to knowing what they do wrong? It’s fine to put up a barrier so that you can examine your deeds in peace and quiet – that is the purpose of the comfort zone. That is natural; what is not natural is when the barrier stays up.
(1) Bureaucrats who think like this are easy to undermine and the Americans know this. It’s why they set up their EU in Brussels, because the Belgians are even dumber than the Dutch.