The importance of space

Stress has been on my mind lately. Last week, my partner and I were in the home stretch of pulling together a proposal for a possible client. By the end of the week, I was struck by how much stress I was feeling in my body. I felt wound up quite tight. Right after we submitted the proposa — technically, as we submitted the proposal — I hopped on a bus for Portland to visit some friends. I noticed a significant decrease in the stress in my body on the drive down. By the time I got there, I felt practically none at all.

That all changed this morning for a variety of reasons. All I’m going to say is that the stress is back. I feel it coursing through my system. As I’ve been tracking this today, the thing that keeps coming up for me is the lack of space. Inner-space, really. I find that my inner world is narrow. There is little room for creating something, or for exploring something. It’s as if just about every square inch of my inner-world has been filled. Is this what it feels like to be a phone with no more memory? Probably.

If we don’t have inner-space, how can we be expected to learn and grow? If we don’t have inner-space, how can we process all of the many things that we have experienced? Many of the things I’m describing are probably the very things that are filling up the inner-space. Suffocating our ability to process.

What’s fascinating to me is that we have basically normalized this experience. In fact, one could argue that we’ve constructed our entire society around it. To be stressed is to be human1, at least, that’s what we’ve come to believe.

But, like a phone or computer, we can’t actually be fully human2 unless we are able to process. We need the space. It’s critical.

We need to make it.

  1. To be sure, there are many different kinds of stress today. From the stress of a job to the stress of fearing for your safety because of the color of your skin, the spectrum is long, and we shouldn’t make them all seem the same.

  2. No, silly. I’m not saying that computers are human.

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