Surface tension

We all take up space. Our existence as physical beings requires that we do so. Most of the time, we are well separated physically from other human beings. And the right to security of person says that all physical contact (other than unavoidable crowd contact) must be mutually consensual. Did you know that each of us has a tiny gravitational field? All physical objects have one. We warp the space around us very, very slightly.

Physical space is not the only kind that we occupy. Each of us also has an ecological footprint—the renewable and nonrenewable resources that we consume, either personally or through shared infrastructure. No one is without an ecological footprint. The footprints of some are very small due to homelessness, insufficient food, and general inability to consume very many resources. Most of us who have enough money and a home probably consume more than we really need. And some consume vastly more than they need.

Sweetie and I do fairly well on resource consumption, not because we are more righteous but because reducing our ecological footprint is a priority for us. It bothers me that I have to put things like plastic that can't be recycled into landfill. I wish we had laws for all plastics to have a recycling number (based on the type of plastic), and for there to be as few 3s and 6s as possible (coffee lids are almost always 6). I wish we had laws for the use of goods in general, so that every product came with the means to dispose of it responsibly.

Social capital is a renewable resource, but it needs funding. And that means taxation. So voting for lower taxes or avoiding paying taxes depletes social capital in favour of individual capital. That means people take up individual space at the expense of social space, which is really just a variation on our theme.

Finally there is the space that really got me started on writing this--the space that each of us takes up by our presence. Not physical space (see above). More like psychic space. There are many ways to take up psychic space. Some take up more space because they feel free to speak up, while others take up less because they are shy about speaking. Extroverts tend to take up more space than introverts.

Privilege has a psychic footprint. And there are more kinds of privilege than we imagine. Those who lack privilege in one environment might well have it in another.

I think there will always be some people who take up more psychic space than others. We are not all alike. But it is a zero-sum game. If someone takes up more space, someone else takes up less. And since we all need psychic space, there can be detrimental effects on those with less space.

I have multiple privileges. I am also fairly extroverted. I know I tend to take up a lot of space. And to some extent, that's me. But I think I can still be me without impinging upon the space of others. That is what I would like. I don't always perceive the edges of the space of others right away, but I always look for them. I want to respect them and give them room. And maybe there will be a place where spaces meld and interact.

That's something I've found while working on this. When I allow others the space that I am often too quick to claim as my own, their space can expand nicely. And when there is less claiming of space, less pushing of space against space, the edges are softer. The spaces have a better chance of co-mingling. I don't know about anyone else, but I know that's good for me.

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