Breaking the Barrier

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by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.
Though most of us haven’t any hesitation about grousing from time to time we’re normally less inclined to partner our occasional euphoria. Happy people can be such a tiresome trial! Those who insist upon oozing forth their good fortune and beneficence can be horridly unsettling. In this instance however I am compelled to do so. Admittedly I am rather smug about it.  Though I haven’t done anything in particular which might qualify as an achievement I nonetheless feel compelled to rejoice in what to me is a victory of sorts. What occurred to me as a pondered this unusual state of delight is that I have broken a barrier. To me that qualifies as remarkable in every sense of the word.
Not unlike most applications to break barriers my own circumstances involved not only the requisite barrier but also the repeated test runs to break through it. The barrier – or challenge if you will – was the accommodation of what I considered at the time to be the poor conduct of others.  Granted my preoccupation with the measure of their conduct was at moments both petty and impatient, not exactly the best antidote for any perceived disruption.  In my heart I knew this and it therefore lent a contamination to my unilateral assessment.  What however buoyed the disturbance and checked the abeyance was the knowledge based upon experience and the larger view of similar indicia that my initial reaction – though each time abrupt – was not entirely ill-founded. In fact it would be fair to say that I had more than once excused the behaviour for less than palpable reasons.  Hence the accommodation (the barrier). Making an abstract analysis of this objection led me to conclude that the offensive behaviour was not specifically directed at me (though to interpret otherwise unquestionably required a stretch of generosity); rather the performance was routine for that person no matter with whom they interacted.  It astonishes me that I have more than once failed to grasp that axiomatic theme.  But when you think about it, it only makes sense that if someone is good at being a jerk, they’ve likely tutored themselves frequently in similar conduct.  It’s the same way that cheap people are not just cheap with you, they’re cheap with everyone about everything, that’s just the way they are!
While one might imagine that understanding that quirk of human behaviour would be sufficient to dissolve the barrier of perturbation, there is yet another hurdle to overcome before the impediment is completely eliminated. Regrettably there lingered the inertia of unresolved disagreements.  Sometimes the tension was in my own mind; at others it may have been something I had verbalized even though in less than an acute manner.  Such are our sensibilities that it doesn’t require enormous insight to calculate the abrasiveness or disaffection of others.  We know when things aren’t right. More often than not the traces of hostility or anxiety are so insignificant that they diminish with time. But, like the barrier they constitute, until the obstacle it represents is fully addressed, it subsists.
What then, you might rightly enquire, enables one to break the barrier? Here I have to say I am somewhat sheepish.  No doubt after this prolonged introduction and the elevation of my apparent triumph you would be justifiaby inclined to speculate that I had adopted some stringent course of action pregnant with posture and intent.  On the contrary, the resolution lies in something more closely resembling pusillanimity than courage. In fairness I won’t suggest I dodged the dilemma.  Nor especially that I strode around it. Instead I may have merely insulated the perplexity.  Clearly not one of us will transform the behaviour of others though patently we may unwittingly allow ourselves to be engineered by their disruptive conduct.  In the end the solution is to wrap the problem in as charitable a concoction as possible, like the oyster’s pearl about a grain of sand, and then be done with it.  The tactic has the advantage of removing the abrasiveness while transforming the result into something tolerable. The culmination of the resurgence is to be able to remove oneself from the gauze of the relationship which, while tenuous and almost invisible, can strangely entangle us in a messy situation.  Until we have insulated ourselves from the problem we continue to be caught in its web and confounded by it unmanageability and incomprehensibility.  There is however no need to insinuate the problem itself; we likely haven’t either the capacity or strength to fathom its source, power and persuasiveness.  Nor need we do so.  We have enough to do to handle our own sentiments.  Insulation doesn’t mean disregard but it does represent disengagement.  Once that first important step of severance is accomplished – once the barrier is broken – then the dynamic of our involvement and comprehension is correspondingly clarified.  Sometimes it just takes that extra push to get beyond the barrier.
“The greater part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self-created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life.“ — Eckhart Tolle