Each of us love our private space. At times, we like to be left alone. Nobody can define what is the right space we need at any time in our life. There are times in our lives, where we feel comfortable surrounded by friends or relatives. There are other times, when we want to be left all alone. Each of us define our space based on time and our personal needs. There is no right or wrong answer to define the space we need.
The interesting aspect of space is that sometimes we want people around us and at other times we do not want. This is true for individuals, communities, societies and nations. Every individual enjoys her or his personal space. Although, we cannot draw a circle and define our space, we tend to evolve it based on needs and moods. It could change with time, space and stage of our life and it is fine to be that way.
It is important to realise that while we enjoy our space, we need to respect the space of others too. We get irritated if someone intrudes into our space but are less concerned when we do the same. This is the lesson to learn in life. The territory of others is as valuable to them as it is to us. We realise the value of it only when our space is infringed by others. It may be useful to respect others’ s spaces without being reminded of the same.
Interestingly, this phenomenon is equally applicable across nations too. In a global conference, social scientists can interpret relationship between states by the distance they keep between them. It is important to realise that every sovereign country likes to protect its space. No country likes its space to be intruded by others. We can note that even in international boundaries, there is always a neutral zone between states. This is also to ensure that no country intrudes into the territory of others even by mistake.
Another dimension could be the space we occupy even in our offices. If we try to trespass into the space of our colleagues at work it is not appreciated. On the other hand, if we keep a distance from other team members they feel ignored . We need to strike the right balance between proximity and intrusion. The line is very thin and we may learn by experience. Different people and different organisations may view this differently.
Even in our neighbourhood, it is delicate balance to maintain the right distance. If we get too close to our neighbours, they may consider it as an intrusion. On the other hand, if we keep a safe distance, they may interpret it as aloofness on our part. What is the right distance to maintain is again not defined by laws of physics or sociology. It is learnt by experience and is also situational. In a crisis situation, neighbours would appreciate closeness and proximity. On the other hand, on some other occassion, they will prefer to be left alone.
Interestingly the concept of spaces could be experienced even within the family. What is right distance you need to maintain with your elders or with your children is difficult to define. If your ignore your parents, they will feel neglected. On the other hand, if you your start advising them every day on everything, they may feel suffocated. The same may be true for your children. When should you get close to them and when you should leave them alone to learn from their own deeds is a matter of judgement.
As in this photo, the distance between friends was not planned but happened as we sat across a table in a marriage reception. We all liked it and the conversations were cordial and friendly. I am not sure if this was caused by the space between us or in spite of the space. It may be just incidental and may not have any basis at all. Hence, it is not worth spending your life thinking and planning about spaces. But, it may be a good idea to learn from our mistakes.
Lets keep the right distance.
S Ramesh Shankar