I never asked you to rearrange my furniture

You don’t walk into someone’s living room and change their furniture. You just don’t.

The things we choose to include in our living rooms are personal. A friend of ours has a fully-functioning, six foot Dalek standing in his living room. Being a Dr Who fan, he chooses this massive alien machine-organism as a feature. I have preferences that probably don't make sense to everyone too, like the blowervac that I keep handy behind the lounge or the cafe series coffee machine and grinder that I've had sitting behind the door for the past six months. (Wanna buy?? Name your price.)

Here's a picture of my living room. It has more than one and a half walls of glass. My front door consists of two oversized glass doors that slide behind two other oversized glass panels. I agree with what you're probably thinking right now: this would never work in suburbia!

Around here people call before they call in. Even our neighbours phone before they pop around to retrieve a lost Kelpie or bring a council petition to sign (ongoing dirt road issues).

Postman Steve beeps his horn before he drives down the long driveway to deliver packages. I'm glad about this because another wall of glass exists in our ensuite shower and while providing a great view of a beautiful treefern and a rolling grassy hill, it also faces the driveway. Not our design choice but one which we mostly enjoy.

One morning, I heard a car drive in soon after Barry left for work. Thinking he'd forgotten something, I wiped the glass wall of my steaming shower so I could see what he was doing only to find Plumber Pat’s apprentice down below. Ah that's right! He's coming to fix the septic!

We even have this sign at the top of the driveway: Private property! Keep out! And so it's been with a level of resentment that I've had this on again off again discussion with certain purveyors of reading materials.

One hot summer's day, said purveyors walked up to my wide-open front door. Not finding me there, they [may have] straightened the lounge, changed the photo arrangement on my walls and shaken their heads at the assortment of bills, bike bits and empty mugs strewn over my coffee table before wandering down to my office.

My office is built as an extension to the old stables and my desk faces the windows that look out onto a peaceful glade. Because of the steamy heat you get during an Australian summer, I had my fan on high blast. So it unfolded that I didn't notice when they [possibly] tidied up my bookshelf and reconfigured the contents of my bar fridge. Finally deciding to get my attention, one of them coughed loudly.

I turned around to see a man, woman and child staring at me from the open door. This gave me a heart attack [could have].

We had words.

Actually, we’ve had several words over the five years that I've lived here. It's gone much like this:

Words (1): Me, standing at my front door feeling exposed by the fact that my living room yawns wide open behind me. Closing down questions designed to provide openings for revelations. Watching them leave, all the while feeling sorry for them but also for myself. It feels so invasive!

Words (2): Me, repeating Words 1.

Words (3): Me, spotting them early and walking down to their car before they can approach the front door. Accepting a Watchtower, interrupting the questions to say something like: “Actually, I’m not trying to be rude or anything, but in the country we’re used to a lot of privacy (like that sign at the top of my drive implies) so it’s quite an unpleasant shock if we get surprise visits or people we don’t know coming to our front door. I also have this shower facing the driveway and … Yes, thank you, your reading materials can go into my mailbox instead.”

Them, reassuring me that these instructions will go into their database.

Words (4): Me, elevating three feet off my chair after hearing loud coughing and turning around to find miniature family staring at me from my office door. Regaining my composure and accompanying them to their car, which by now has crept past my house and parked itself just outside my office. (Through heavily-tinted windows I can just make out that it contains two more people.) Me, explaining that I already have my beliefs but they're welcome to leave their reading materials in my mailbox. I really don’t want to have these conversations with strangers. Sorry and thank you.

Them, reassuring me that these instructions will go into their database.

Finally: Me, periodically retrieving said reading materials from my mailbox and thanking God for small mercies (and fully-functioning databases).

Our beliefs are much like living room furniture. Some things exist because we believe them to be true and we've spent a long time researching them or they simply comfort us. Sometimes our beliefs include precious family heirlooms or things we've picked up from our travels. Sometimes we might have a big item sitting there, like a Dalek or a blowervac, that doesn't make much sense to anyone else, but does to us. Sometimes we rearrange our beliefs into better configurations to avoid the corners of 'sharp' objects.

I know what it's like to want to change someone's 'furniture'. As a ghost writer, article and content writer who uses a variety of media platforms, I see myself as an interior designer. I find ways of talking about things that will hopefully influence other people's thoughts, feelings and actions. Like most people, I get pretty emotional when I recognise belief systems that are damaging to their owner or others. However, imposing my beliefs, not listening to others' viewpoints, even resorting to verbal bashing like we see too often on social media ...? These are not things that work.

People only change when they can come to the table as equals, when their thoughts and feelings are respected, and when they can draw the curtains for privacy sometimes.

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