"they say the owl was a baker's daughter. lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be." (Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5)

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Shaping Space

Have you ever considered the space between? The space between any two people and how it gets there, or how it dissolves, or how it expands and contracts, or how it shifts, or how it establishes its own rules of engagement? Or how the balance of power sometimes simply hangs in the balance. Or how it grows warmer or colder, or lighter or darker. It's nothing more than space, and it sometimes seems that everything, all of it (whatever it is), is all trapped in there. Sometimes it is suffocating snared in confinement. Sometimes it is free-floating lost in vastness.

And it's a constant negotiation. Who we let in to it. And on what terms. Who we keep out of it. Any why. And for how long. The price we make them pay. The determinations we make about what debts to forgive in exchange for proximity again. The debts we create to fortify our own indignant convictions.

The imperfections we accept in people just to have companionship. The demons we create in others just to force them out. However you configure it, one axiom remains. The space is the guardian of the truth. This in-between space is the only space in which the truth can be tolerated. The space where the truth is pure. The space between.

Perhaps Peter Senge is an odd man to quote a time like this, but he said it best-- There is no enemy out there. You and the cause of all of your problems are part of the same system. It's all the same. Because wherever you go in this great spinning world, there you are. And the space remains. You can never leave it. You are always half of it. You own that much. You just drag it around with you. And all of its truth, however inaccessible, however unknown to you, are forever in your shadow.

So, how do you enter it? Do you dip your toe with guarded caution, stand in rigid self-righteousness, or immerse yourself in that space in hopeful promise? How do you shape it? Do you pour in anger, build around your self-manufactured drama, or sculpt it with grace? How do you interpret your own intentions? What do you want from the person on the other side? Are you trying to pull her closer or push him further away? Do you want it more than he does? Will you look with more than your own eyes, will you feel with more than your own heart? Or will you strand yourself in your own reality, unable to connect, compromise, or consider an alternative? Your truth is just one version of many. Can you accept that?

And we're all in it together. Turning to face a new space with a different stranger, turning to shape an old space with an intimate ally. This imperfect world on which we spin. Trading space for emotion, bartering for control, dealing out of pity, making withdrawals out of vainglory, or exchanging out of need.

One day you might turn and find me on the opposite side of your space. One day I might turn and find you. What will happen in that space at that moment? In what currency will we deal? What tools and what materials will we use to shape that space? And what emotions and expectations will we bring to bear on it? And when the truth emerges between us, will we know it when we see it?

"The world spins. We stumble on. It is enough." ~Colum McCann