In recent years there has been a lot made of space. Not the NASA kind of space. Not the Star Trek kind of space. Or parking spaces or office spaces or even line spaces. Personal space. Know what I mean? As in: I need my space. Gimme some space. You’re invading my space. Gotta find some space. There’s even an entire blogosphere devoted to it called My Space. So, it’s quite the commodity these days.
Used to be that people just wanted to be alone. Or go for a walk. Or see a movie without company. Maybe sit under a tree and read a book. They even played hookie from time to time. But they didn’t carry around metaphysical walls and boundaries over which others were not to step. They did not erect in their minds individual planets with their own solar systems in order to get a little peace and quiet. Nope, back then I think we were more sociable than today.
So how does one make that space? That personal space that is so sought after, valued and treasured? It seems to me that there is no one way to do it. It seems to me that everyone has their own way of making their ‘space’ their own.
Roomie for example, makes it with dirt and clutter. He has so dripped, dribbled and drabbed over the coffee table that I won’t go near it. His side of the kitchen counter is frightening and I go to great lengths to avoid it. Heck we even divvy up the stove – my half is clean, his is dirty. Yep that’s how he maintains his personal space.
Others use food – hey the bigger the body the more space you get to occupy, yes? Don’t believe me, ask my fat ass. (Note to self, must find other ways to make space).
Some make it with noise. Ever notice how crazy noisy kids are in grocery stores? They throw themselves on the floor and scream bloody murder. Boy do they get a lot of space, people go three aisles over just to get out of that space.
How about fences or walls. The neighbor who isn’t exactly neighborly erects concrete walls, 8 foot fences, electronic gates and covers them with growing vines to get his space.
The do-it-your-selfer uses his trusty power tools to ensure the garage remains his personal space. The wife doesn’t want to go near the dirty noisy things and as long as something is running, she will stay safely ensconsed in the house in front of the television or air conditioner.
Many of us bloggers use words. Pleading words. Pleasing words. Funny words. Angry words. Authoritative words. Impressive words. Kind words. We fill our spaces up with words and sometimes pictures too – the words of course, are really just thoughts so I guess we use our mental faculties to make space. How very metaphysical of us.
Yet with all this space making going on, it seems to me that we aren’t any happier than we used to be. In fact, we may be less happy than we once were. When social decorum was a quality not an abberation, when manners were sought after, not criticized, when people tried to get along, not get apart.
So what’s your take on space? New frontier or life avoidance? How do you make space? Are others welcome there? What do you do to get space?
20 thoughts on “Space the Final Frontier?”
Your post made me think of the McMansions. Those are everywhere, yes? People build these giant houses/mansions, filling up ever spare bit of land they have purchased, and they will have pools, mini movie theaters, gyms, probably even bowling alleys. They leave for work, at least some of them sometimes, but everything else can be done inside of their walls.
I tend to have really defined personal space in some ways, but it is fluid in other ways. If I’m in a crowded metro car, I’m okay with being crowded, but I’ve rarely had a roommate (aside from the non-human variety), and it is mostly hard to imagine dealing with one.
Yet I spent a few months at a biological station in a small town in Baja Mexico once, doing research with a dozen or so other people. We had no rooms to call our own, it was pretty much all communal space, and we slept outside on cots. Best time of my life, and I’m not kidding.
Anyway, what I found, which amazed me, is that personal space was as easy as reading a book, writing a letter, or sitting on a rock watching the pelicans during siesta. Personal space could be as easy as not making eye-contact, even if we were all crowded on the boat together, on our way to or from one of the islands we were collecting data from.
I guess what I’m saying is that I learned that personal space is mental, not physical. It is pretty freeing to understand that.
I still enjoy living alone. I do let my place get messy as an excuse for not inviting others into that space. I’m trying to change that, it is a bigger issue for me than personal space. It helps that I had that experience in Mexico that taught me how to find personal space in the middle of a crowd.
Our area is lousy with those uggo mcmansions. I hate them. They are ridiculous.
I loved your story about the Mexico trip and I can totally see how that would have been the case. Pursuing something that excites and interests you enables you to have as much space as you need. No matter the conditions. So yes, I think you’re right, the space comes from the gray matter more than anything else.
“What do you do to get space?”
Having gas usually works.
Premium or unleaded? 😉
I have my wall. It’s in the lounge, cluttered with hundreds of books, my CDs, my desk and computer. It isn’t really in the room – it’s in a separate space. I maintain it, clean it, exist in it.
Occasionally, I allow people to enter my space – to answer the phone, for instance. But other than that, it’s my space.
In all other places, I’m in other’s spaces; and I suppose the secret is to respect that. We used to call it community.
Some people still had their own space in those days – not washing for a couple of weeks usually did the trick 🙂
Yes, avoiding soap does give one plenty of space, doesn’t it? 😉
The Police training academy defines personal space as a “protective zone” or a radius of about two metres (five feet). Anyone entering that space is liable to be shot.
Thats my kind of deal…
Psychologists on the other hand say that anyone who puts their face less than thirty centimetres from another want to sleep with that person…
So on that note… I wanna be a Space Invader.. but i will avoid chicks in uniform.
You had me paying attention to how close people were putting their faces to mine, all day. I couldn’t stop thinking about that. It was funny.
When I was in high school I competed for a scholarship from the Lions with the theme Space. I used that opportunity to write a speech about the space between a mother and daughter. How big that space can be and how small. Suffice to say I did not win. They were looking for NASA and I was giving them insight in to relationships. Oh well, it did further my interest in the space between people and how much we need.
I know for myself that it fluctuates and I am not always good at articulating my needs.
I think it’s great that your mind went to your own imagination and thoughts than what was the obvious choice. Things happen for a reason I think. It sounds like it opened up a new topic for you and that can never be bad.
My space….the forbidden, the hard sought after. I guess if I think about it, my blog is my space. Or the back verandah as I’m having a cuppa and a smoke after Tony has left for work but before Zoe wakes up in the morning. My space needs to be quiet for my day is filled with the never ending noise of questions, giggles. Which is a good thing, and I don’t resent that as a mother I have so little time for myself. But just a few minutes of quiet, no matter where it is. Thats my space.
As for you query about whether we are happier for having this fascination with our space? I don’t think so. I think that too much choice is what hampers our inability to be happy. We are constantly wondering if the grass is greener, constantly comparing what we have with what we don’t have…think from memory I wrote a post a while back on that very topic.
p.s I really should learn not to come visiting you at 6 in the morning, my body isn’t awake yet let alone my mind and you ALWAYS make me think….or spit my coffee which isn’t necessarily a good thing when i’m still half asleep……hehehehe
I think you’re right about the too much choice and the comparisons. It spoils the fun. Sorry about the spitting and thinking, I’ll have to work on some nice lowkey posts that won’t upset your delicate constitution that early in the morning. 😉
Ok, I just proved my own point about the morning thing….that second paragraph was supposed to say that we AREN”T happier…..brain still asleep…
No worries, I got what you meant.
there is a whole lot of space between my ears ~ and that is where i hang out if i need some 😉
this one time in a university drama class .. we did this personal space boundry exercise where someone would come and behind you and you were supposed to say when you felt them … some people had them a lot of need for personal space ~ me, they had to touch me before i felt it … i think that i’ve developed some boundaries since then but hopefully not too many … : )
I’d love to do that exercise – I wonder when I would feel it. That would be very interesting. You’re lucky that your head is roomy and you can get the space in there. Mine is always so crowded with junk, recipes and ocd arguments with myself. 😉
My personal space is made when I meditaite, when I drive alone in my car, in my shower, and at night while I sleep. It is these places where I can experience mystical things; meditation. I can sing my heart out in the car without hearing the cats screaming in the neighborhood, relax in the shower, and travel where ever I want in my dreams.
I find these are times where I am “supposed” to be alone…. I found with 3 kids finding that space or time anywhere else is too much of a challenge and it ends up making me feel worse then I did before.
Have a great night WC!
You know Lucid, I have some of my best ideas while driving or in the shower – as long as a pen and paper aren’t handy, the ideas are flowing. Funny, that, eh?
Have a good one yourself.
My space is also here in blogland. Sitting in my chair with my laptop is my space where i’m left alone (mostly). My son is about to move back home for awhile so my space is fixing to be made a bit smaller and I’m not real sure how I feel about that.
I suppose it’s my space too. The place that no one can really encroach on and I roll that way.
How does your son feel about camping out? 😉
I blame the iPod. 😉
LOL – I blame the cell phone. 🙂
I blame Global Warming.
Your problem is in looking at space as static, instead of a changing point of view derived from your needs at any given moment. For instance, the personal space you need at a party is initially based on your cultural background, but will frequently fluctuate in an inverse ratio to the amount of alcohol you consume.
However, if you are insistent on maintaining a specific physical area of personal space around your home, I’ve found that adopting two large pit bulls and a Doberman mix who are trained to the Invisible Fence encircling our home has, pretty much, reserved this area for the personal use of my immediate family. While this approach does have associated problems, I find the fact that no one has yet dared get out of their car until I put the dogs up to be well worth it 🙂
Yes, intimidating dogs do make space. The other stuff you mentioned is over my head. Yikes.
I think “space” is overrated. We’re social beings and we meant to be surrounded by our own. I think the actual yearning is not for “space” but for quiet… a way to quiet ourselves long enough to just breathe and be. I think it’s more spiritual than physical, especially since we Americans aren’t very good at setting and respecting personal boundaries.
Hope you had a nice birthday. I agree that space is over rated. Not sure about the respecting boundaries thing – I think it might be the opposite – too many boundaries.
Two things come to me about this…the first is the number of people I know who have “storage spaces” now. Just how much STUFF do we have that it needs to have it’s own apartment? eek.
The other thing is a phrase that I use a lot in real life around the idea of God. I like to think of prayer as “making space” for God…pushing back a stack of old books, throwing out some bad habits and making room for the extraordinary, for the divine…otherwise I might have to go and get more stuff and then rent an apartment for it later…
I had to laugh at the propensity for storage space among our fellow Americans. It is weird isn’t it? I mean, how much stuff do we need? I figure if you aren’t going on a long trip and giving up your apartment, the need for a storage space is probably really the need for a garage sale. 😉
murder of ravens…
At the risk of being shunned…can I just blame George Bush and be done with it?
Stevie Wonder says to blame it on the sun. 😉
What do I do to get space? Laugh and the world laughs with you, blast off a good stinky fart and people back the hell up.
Stevie Wonder rocks…
Yeah he does! 🙂
My son was going on mum…mum…mum…mum… It never registered at all until he said Fat Bitch..Then I go crazy. “Don’t call me a fat bitch” I say, “but you don’t answer to mum” he says. I say, “Jack I just need some space” to which he replied. ” You don’t get space in church” HA!!
Just my little story about space that makes me smile.
Well it seems it was effective in getting your attention, but perhaps I should give him a smack for being disrespectful anyway. 😉
I know, disrespectful little git :). Hey do you know in this fuxxed up politically correct country I live in we are not allowed to smack our kids. Not even a smack on the bum. It’s a criminal offence. How crazy is that.
That is crazy – but not surprising. The PC crowd thinks it should be raising your children, not you. Can you say, 1984?
No I haven’t heard of that. Can you explain it please ?. I have heard some crazy shit tho, which has got me trying to write about it and the examples I have come across in the maddness of the PC world.
OH! P.S. I read a post of yours, memories of your brother, there wasn’t a reply bit tho so I couldn’t reply.I just wanted to give you a hug. ((((((Annie))))))) here it is. Your memories touched my heart having had the experience of friends who have died with that same illness.
The book called 1984? You’ve not heard of it? If so, check it out – it will give you pause.
Oh thanks for the words about my brother – it’s been more than 20 years now – still I can still hear his voice and see his grin.
Sorry about turning off the comments – but the spam bots really latch onto the old posts.