ImageOctober 2, 2013

The other day I drove in a part of Albemarle County I don’t remember driving in before. Going from a friend’s house to my kids’ school, I went along back roads and through areas unfamiliar to me. I wished I were a passenger, able to focus on the beauty that surrounded me as opposed to endlessly darting my eyes back and forth watching for deer or squirrels.

The properties in that part of the county, which is awfully pretty to begin with, are just spectacular. Rolling meadows with far-off homes. Fences that, at 35 miles an hour anyway, looked to be perfectly maintained. The foothills of the Blue Ridge formed a backdrop worthy of any six-year-old’s imagination. I used to draw pictures like this, mountains layered on each other like overlapping stickers. Perhaps I was trying for PERSPECTIVE. (I never got there.) Something made me think to myself, “if I could just have a small cottage with all this open space around me, I’d have all I need.”

And so I pondered space. In this day and age of McMansions, when even our own children ask about getting a bigger house so they can have bigger rooms, I wonder if we are losing a sense of reality. I’m as guilty as the next person with this, my ability to live in a really small space for an extended time notwithstanding – I’d love a house that allows me to have an office, for example. Maybe the ideal house would be the Weasley’s house from Harry Potter – small on the outside, infinitely expandable on the inside.

But on that drive I found myself, encased in my small car, breathing deeper. The endless green openness made my thoughts expand. t’s not space inside a house that matters to me. Anyone who followed my sailing blog could likely figure that out – living in 280 square feet of space with 4 people and all our stuff would have been untenable if we hadn’t had endless horizon anytime we looked around. No, I need space to look, to dream, to think. I love that when I walk in the front door of my house, I can see clear out to the backyard. Open space, no limits, no walls.

I wonder what definition of space lives in the minds of city dwellers. Is it the ability to look up and see towering skyscrapers? That’s one kind of awe, for sure. Is it a strong sense of boundaries that rigidly keeps some things in and some things out?

Is space really just a way of putting our lives into perspective? 

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