Allegory of the Roomby Michael Sharp
Allegory of the Room
Imagine for a moment that we are all sitting in one huge room. The room that we are in has doors and windows and is like any other room that any of us have been in, except for the fact that the room is freezing cold. In fact, it is so cold that everyone in the room has several layers of warm clothing on: hats, gloves, and parkas, to insulate from the bitter cold.
And so there we are huddled in the freezing room, desperate for warmth.
Nobody really knows how long we have been in this room. We just know it is a long time. But suddenly, after what seems like an eternity, one among us looks up from her huddled crouch and realizes that there is some kind of strange contraption on her back. She strains to see what it is but cannot quite make out the details.
After a few moments of examination, she notices that there is a string attached to the contraption. After a moment’s hesitation, she pulls the string and a soft humming begins to emanate from it. Nothing else happens for a moment or two, and so she sits back down and huddles against the cold.
While she is examining her contraption and pulling her string, a few people notice her activity and stand to watch. After seeing what she is doing, they too notice a contraption on their back and an attached string; however, they do not pull the string. Instead, they watch the girl as she pulls her string. They watch to ensure no harm comes from this. They watch as the girl sits down. Nothing happens and they immediately lose interest and settle back down to coping with the bitter cold.
After a few moments, however, the girl who originally pulled the string notices that something has changed in the air around her.
“What is it,” she thinks to herself.
Then she realizes! The air around her seems to be warming up, and rapidly. She can no longer see her breath and her body is becoming uncomfortable under the extra load of clothing. She strains her neck to look at the contraption and immediately realizes that the contraption is some sort of personal heating system. Surprised, she looks around and notices that everyone else is wearing one just like it.
Incredulous, she wonders why nobody has seen this heater before or never pulled the string. Perhaps they were concentrating too hard against the cold and simply did not see beyond the frost in their breath and the ice on their clothes. Perhaps they simply believed that no other existence was possible. No matter, after a few minutes she is becoming decidedly uncomfortable and she now, with some degree of excitement, begins to remove her clothing layer by layer.
The people huddled immediately around her have now looked up and noticed her excitement. What is more, those closest to her are also noticing a change in the air temperature. As it turns out, the heater on her back is so powerful that she has now affected the temperature a few meters all around her.
People have noticed.
People are warming up.
As time passes, people become uncomfortably warm.
They ask her what is happening and she explains about the heater on their backs. She suggests that if they turn on the heaters, they could warm up the room even more. She also advises that they should start taking their layers of clothing off because once their heater is on, their bodies will quickly become uncomfortable beneath the think layers of fabric.
Some, but not all, of her immediate neighbors take her advice and pull the string. A few moments pass and the air around them rises a few degrees. Feeling uncomfortable, they also begin to take off their clothes.
Now, there is a small bubble of excitement in the room. A few more people (this time a little farther away from the center) are beginning to look up and wonder what all the excitement is about. There are even people standing off away in the corners who have heard the bustle, and are straining their necks to see. A buzz begins to move through the room and a few people here and there look up, stand up, and wonder what is going on. They ask those around them but most of the freezing people are too cold to worry and too bitter to care. Still, people are talking and the word is rapidly spreading.
Some are even saying that people are taking off their clothing but the skeptical ones laugh at this. However, the braver ones, the ones who are tired of being cold, the ones who trust the rumors, the ones who can see the small island of people beginning to dance in the warmth, strain to look at their backside. When they do, lo and behold, they see a string attached to a contraption. Getting swept up in the rising excitement, they pull the string and the air around them immediately begins to warm.
They begin to feel uncomfortably warm.
They begin to take off their clothes.
Now as we pause and look around at the room, we notice small islands of radiant heat in a sea of bitter cold. Here and there, dotted throughout this huge room of individuals, people are starting to realize that the cold is not something they have to live with. More and more, see that within their grasp is all the heat they need to get warm and stay warm.
Still, and at first, it is only a few people here and there. The ones who are more adventurous, the ones who are tired of the cold, the ones who are desperate for a new world, these are the first ones to pull the string. Of course, they talk. They point out the rising heat. They excitedly exclaim “look, we don’t need too many clothes!” But most people in the room are still too busy trying to keep warm to give them much thought.
“Crazy,” they think to themselves, “If they do not wake up, they will eventually just cook to death.”
For a while, it seems, little progress is made. More and more turn on and heat up, but against the huddled masses, it seems little more than a drop. However, the heaters are powerful; far more powerful than we initially think. And after a certain point, it is not just the local temperature around the individual heaters that is affected. When enough have turned on their heaters, and when the heaters have been running long enough, a collective shift occurs. Instead of localized islands of heat, the entire room is impacted and the ambient temperature begins to rise slowly. Once a certain ambient temperature has been reached, everyone, no matter how tightly huddled against the now-non-existent arctic blasts, begins to feel the rising temperature of the room.
After a certain point is reached, nobody can ignore what is going on.
At that point, individuals in random locations in the entire room begin to look up to see what is up. Hundreds and soon thousands notice the excited activity of their once frozen compatriots. They can no longer ignore. They ask, with some confusion, “what is going on?”
They are told, “There are heaters! There is warmth. It takes only a moment. Just pull the string.”
These individuals in random locations increasingly feel the heat. Listening to the guidance around them, they all begin to pull their strings. This accelerates the process and brings it increasingly into the foreground. At a certain point, the exitement grows so great that waves and waves of frozen room dwellers pull their string and start the process. They don’t even wait to start taking off their layers. Even before they pulled their string, they were already becoming uncomfortably warm.
Of course, now that so many are tuning in and turning on, the rise in temperature is no longer subtle. Now the thermometer rises a degree every few minutes. The excitement and discomfort rise fast as well. It is at this point, as we gaze at waves and waves of people jumping to their feet, turning on their heaters, and stripping their clothes, that we begin to see the problem. Fear has begun to cascade through the huddled, resistant masses. The room is now heating so fast, and people around them are stripping so quickly, that these poor room dwellers are confused and befuddled. Questions flood through their minds and they are increasingly gripped by panic and fear. People all around them are staring and smiling and pointing and stripping. Some have even reached the point of total undress and are now jumping ’round bare naked with the sheer joy of the warmth and their freedom.
“What is all this about?”, the resisters wonder, confused.
What is worse, their confusion is compounded by their pain. The room is so warm now, and their clothing so thick, that inside their multiple layers, they are beginning to bake.
It is a crisis, but it is one the people in the room seem able to handle. By this point, there are many who have already weathered The Shift, and they understand the process. They reach out, they explain, they help, they calm, they smile, and they respond. Progress is made and pretty soon, there is lots of help, lots of support, and lots of calm reassurance.
As understanding of the process and support for the frozen resisters grow, most people come to respond. Most begin to turn on their heaters and take off their clothes. At a certain point, the ambient temperature in the room reaches a perfect 28 degrees.
The Shift has been completed.
Still, there are problem areas.
A few, a small handful of people, cannot cope with the rapidity of the change and stubbornly and persistently resist. They see the joyful dancing and the smiling faces. They see the naked people and, amidst all the confusion and odd sensations they are experiencing, they cannot process the pain in their body.
Some are mad.
Some are fearful.
Some are filled with guilt and shame.
For some, it is too much. They panic, snap, and run screaming out of the room.
Those that can be restrained are gently held until they are calm. The new reality is explained and their clothes are gently removed.
Those that cannot be restrained, or who flail too violently, are left to themselves until they exhaust and possibly expire. It is a sad time when this occurs, but an unavoidable outcome for those who continue to resist. Eventually they are simply overwhelmed by the heat.
How many will panic?
How many will need to be restrained?
How many will exaust and expire?
Who can say at this point, for there are still too many factors at play.
Still, it is important to remember as you read these words, the room is now warm enough. At this point, there is no turning back. Now, it is only a matter of time before everybody is free, warm, joy-dancing in the warmth of a room aglow with the joy and divinity of a people freed from their cold energy chains.
The Shift has been made.
The only question now is, will you take off your layers, open up, and come join in the fun, or will you resist until you exaust and, possibly, expire.
This is your decade.
This is your choice.
Now, it is all up to you.