The Valley Times Column – SEP 2016
It is hard to get to know your neighbors through a fence. That being said, I just built a fence. I must be a bad person because in Church, I listen to sermons that say to “Love thy neighbor”. For me, I realize there is some significant room for me to improve here. “Good fences make good neighbors”. This quote has been attributed to many people in different countries for centuries. Recently we say Robert Frost popularized it. So I built a really good fence, does that make me a really good neighbor? I am understandably confused.
On a blog post a person commented on this topic quite well. They said “…When boundaries are clear, relationships can better prosper. If you know where you stand, where your property begins and ends, and are free to do on your side as your neighbor is on his or hers, it makes for better relationships between people”.
The above makes sense to me. Not only in fences and neighbors but in many aspects of our lives. What is hard for us to accept is that our neighbors may be different than us, but that does not make it wrong. I find that I often judge others in how I order my life. If it is not the way I would do it, then it must be wrong. Learning to accept that they may feel the exact same way is tough to chew. But I am trying to slow down and look at things from other points of view. Throughout my construction life, I found that there was usually several ways to get to the end result. We had personal preferences, but were willing to accept and learn the methods of others. Taking that to the next step, it also can make us think through the unintended consequences of our actions when viewed by others. Could we be upsetting someone else when we do something we think is right? Perhaps.
I said I built a fence. A pretty cool and unique one if I say so myself. Trust me or email me for technical details if you like. I found as I reached completion of the primary section a feeling of calm came over me. Us. The rest of the family agrees with me on this. We felt as if we no longer needed to be concerned about several things. Out of sight, out of mind. I found that a few points of self created tension have been eliminated. I do not feel so… so… I don’t know, annoyed? It is like the dripping faucet, once you hear it, you can’t not hear it. “Pre-fence” I felt I was looking for trouble when it may have not really been there. Do I dare say it now? I like the neighbors better. I am more willing to… be nicer? I should have built this fence years ago! I’ll probably live longer because of it.
But they seem to be nicer too. This could be a perspective issue. Did I fence them out or me in? They are probably saying “Good, now we do not have to look at that crazy Prin guy obsessing over his garden”. Either way, we both seem to be good with it and that can’t be all bad for overall world harmony.
I think I’ll take some herbs and veggies next door tonight.