Do you have a special and personal space? Do your children?
One thousand eight hundred and ninety miles of space traveled and another two hundred and fifty to go before I will be at my special space in the North Woods, the one I call Lonesome Pines. Apparently, and according t0 neighbors, at least one black bear also thinks it is special. Lesson One of Special Space etiquette starts tomorrow. Where did you learn your space etiquette?
What are we teaching children about personal and community space and place ownership? Is school a place?
I was actually taught to manage uncooperative students by invading their personal space. I didn’t like doing that because, well, is nothing really personal?
What space in a school belongs to an individual student? A peg on a wall? A desk? A locker? Hmmm.
How much space is one person entitled to claim as personal? I have 27 acres in the woods. If I had had more money, I wouldn’t have it anymore because I would have more land, at least another 40 acres on which I had an option. Touchy subject, though, owning space. There are rules.
I cannot grow certain crops on my land. If I do, I could be confined to a very small space with no personal entitlement. I cannot dump hazardous waste–not that I would. The point I’m making is that no space is really personal because what is done there can affect other people even in their own personal space.
It is all about the relationships. Again.
Yes, we teach our children that space is limited and scarce, that they don’t really have personal space to do anything they want, and that the community interest affects their personal space. But, my title is Sacred Space.
Is it appropriate for a teacher to touch a student? Is a pat on the back appropriate? Does a person have a right to declare any space so personal that touching of any kind is inappropriate? Yes, it depends upon the nature of the relationship. In particular, it depends on the mutual nature of the relationship and, if not mutual, upon the responsibility of the dominant person to maintain the personal space of the other.
Do not walk on my land without permission. My neighbors have permission–except during hunting. Then they have permission to follow a wounded animal if, and only if, they try to make contact with anyone hunting on my land.
Do not cut a tree on my land, do not put your hand on me without my permission, and stay out of my face. Do we grant such space to our children, students, friends, or strangers?
There is a smaller area in my woods, right along the logging road and overlooking my driveway, that is sacred to me. And that had better make it sacred to you if you want to be invited to sit there. What makes space sacred? That is your business, or in this case, mine. It is sacred because it feels sacred to me. Nancy calls it Healing Rock and, yes, there is a story there, but it is personal. With her permission, I may share it later.
Different opinions on what space is personal and what is community is the root of wars–many wars. I’m thinking we should teach our children, especially by our example, the importance of rules of relationship regarding sacred space. Why?
Because an animal without personal space, especially sacred space, is a dangerous animal, and that is true for lions, tigers, and bears, oh, my, and people, too. I need wild space to commune. Without it, I get dangerous. That’s why my wife keeps sending me back to Lonesome Pines.
The bear needs it, too, but I draw the line where I mow the grass. Stay our of my camp or it will get personal.