The Invisible Fence

My in-law’s dog wore a path in the grass which exactly follows the line of the invisible fence around their yard. Whether he created the rut in an attempt to explore his escape options or because he sought to maximize his territory I cannot be sure, but the visual has always struck me as a perfect symbol for the way human beings tend to live their lives.

Man operates within an envelope of perceived possibility. The envelope is naturally quite unlimited, but cultural patterns, belief systems, past experiences and other psychological factors shrink the envelope considerably in the course of the individual’s life. These limiting factors are present at every level of human organization, ranging from the individual to the species as a whole.

One of the ways these limitations manifest is in relation to the way in which change is viewed. Comfort and predictability are two of the most worshipped gods in the human condition. There is a strong, typically subconscious tendency to stake out a territory and defend it to the death. Most of the defenses are arrayed against anything that would represent change. The individual thus functioning wears a rut in the flowing world around him, like my in-law’s dog, and countless billions of people have come and gone, living lives that did nothing more than deepen the ruts in consciousness for following generations.

With change comes the discomfort of unfamiliarity and the fear of the unknown limits us more than we might imagine, looking at it from inside the invisible fence. Change is the only constant in the temporal world. If you ground your function in a concern not to be right or to prove others wrong, but instead in a concern for righteousness, you will no longer see change as a threat to your existence. When you consecrate your life to righteousness, comfort is the very last thing on your mind and heart.

I remember hearing that at a certain point the battery in my in-law’s dog’s collar went dead, but the dog, being a creature of habit, never strayed beyond the borders of the self-worn track in the yard. Be careful that you do not do the same, now that you can see that the borders of your consciousness are simply a figment of your imagination.

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8 Responses to The Invisible Fence

  1. Kolya says:

    I agree – excellent points!

  2. Teryl Worster says:

    Great analogy!

  3. MMc says:

    What a effective analogy. Often I’ve experienced that stepping ouside of my own perceived boundries hits up against others ruts as well. I haven’t usually found a chorus of supporters. There is a tendency to keep each other in their “place” as one persons change can catalyze (and usually does ) more, which affects those in proximity. I’ve sought to live my own life but as your in-laws dog, sometimes I think it’s the collar and it’s just my perception. Thanks for the encouragement.

  4. Strawberryfield says:

    Looking back on my life the most compunction I’ve had was NOT moving past that invisible fence. I can’t hardly think of an example where I’d say I should have stayed where I was or I shouldn’t have tried that. Living a life that makes a difference should be the criterion . Making the call is not so risky when the element of righteousness is added to the decision making process. Most times we may bounce from “follow your dreams” to “don’t make waves” either can keep us unnecessarily restricted. The “high road” as it’s been called, usually comes fence free, uncharted and exciting to boot! Nice post!

  5. Ricardo B. says:

    How true this is! Once you get the idea firmly in your head to simplify your life to the point where you can use your daily allotment of energy for the continued advancement of righteousness – and these could be many both personal and collective, but all linked due to their common thread – then the universe of infinite possibilities opens up quite magically. To become untethered from comfort and entertainment as a priority is impertative, and when those moments do come for they always do one way or another, they are far sweeter for a) you appreciate them far more and b) you get the feeling that they really need to be earned honestly.

  6. Zach says:

    You are right that our limits are often much further than we believe them to be. I would think that the easiest way to get past these self limitations is to set a goal that seems beyond your current capacity. You meet that goal, and set another one that is outside your now increased capacity, and repeat to success. Yet the success can’t just be random either. You have written about purpose, and the goals that you set must have an eventual purpose. Just don’t set it too small or you might end up deepening the ruts in your yard rather than transforming the world.

  7. Steve Ventola says:

    Thank you for the reminder for the consecration for rightousness as a key to keep moving forward. It is great to distill things down to the basics of living.

  8. Amy Comstock says:

    I love this! It is really important for us to realize that we are the architects of the walls around us. It is up to each and every individual to break through those walls in order to experience more life. If we stay in the comfort zone of the original walls we built, then we will miss out on so many exciting experiences. I have, for a few months now, decided that each and every day, I will try to “step out of my box” in some small way. Every time that I do step out, I am taking down a piece of the wall that I helped to build. It may take a while, but one day, I hope to be “wall-free!”

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