Interior barriers

May 9, 2012

I walked into my local (soon to be shuttered, from what I hear) branch of the Post Office the other day, and while the door was unlocked and people were milling about inside, the metal barrier above the counter was still rolled down.  It was disconcerting.  Not quite like a bird flying into a glass door, but where I expected space there was a solid barrier, sort of smacking my vision to a full stop.

I’ve had an analogous experience with (some) people.  With one person, I felt a two-dimensional flatness when he referenced his belief in God from across the restaurant table while we were discussing the concept of naming God, and I thought, “That has no depth, it’s just a cognitive thought, it’s like there’s a wall there where there should be space filled with something rich and textured.”  With someone else, I had this sense that I just couldn’t get through to him, that there was something impenetrable between us, even though we were standing only a few feet apart; it felt as if I could never get him to hear me, even if for some reason we agreed to sit down in a conference room together for a hour and talk.   I had no idea what to do, but I sensed I would make something worse if I tried too hard to get through, so I left and hoped it would become clearer later what, if anything, to do further about communicating with him.

I think when I meet a “wall” with individuals, I must use some other part of my apparatus for relating to them, because I don’t sense nothing from them, but I do sense that a pathway I am accustomed to using isn’t available to me.  I almost get the sense that when I encounter such a wall, other modes of sensing the person become heightened for me and more available to me, but they are modes I am not comfortable using.  I also sense that I make these individuals themselves uncomfortable, too.  This combination tends to lead to the result that I withdraw from these situations instead of sticking around to try to figure them out right then and there.  It’s a paradox — if I could get through to the person, I might ask them if we could take some time to figure this out, but if I could do that, there would be nothing to figure out.


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