Friday, 8 January 2016

Space and Age (Part1)

A person accumulates a lot of strong likes, dislikes, habits, opinions, thoughts, beliefs, idiosyncrasies, prejudices etc. as he grows. All of these along with his ego are now a days collectively termed as his individual 'space'. Everybody is supposed to have adequate space to live and function happily.

This space is an imaginary concept. It is not detectable by our five sense organs or any instruments, but it may be felt by our sixth sense. Some times the 'space' becomes a hindrance in coming emotionally close to another person.

Ego is the major contributor to the space. While attributes like envy, jealousy, suspicion. arrogance etc. make the space wider and denser, enmity or hatred make it totally impregnable. On the other hand, love, affection, kindness and empathy may reduce the personal space and build bridges over the space to allow the person to get closer to others. Hence, in spite of any amount of disagreement, a child always remains closely attached to his mother.

 An introvert or a self centered person generally likes to maintain a larger space around him and hence he is not easily approachable. An extrovert person may keep encroaching in to others' spaces and may be avoided by them. A very brave, brilliant, wealthy or successful person may become proud of his qualities and achievements and his space would get expanded out of proportion, unless he also maintains a lot of humility.

The ego of a person generally keeps growing with age and so also his space. Young children not knowing each other can also get friendly almost instantly, because they keep very small their own space, but grown up persons maintaining some space around them need longer time and association to come close and develop a bond. It is rather difficult to make new close friends in old age because their expanded individual spaces tend to keep people at a distance. In simpler words older people look for some matching of likes, dislikes, habits, opinions, thoughts, beliefs etc. of other person with their own, before holding his hand and generally do not find them easily.

Young children are firmly attached to their parents by the bond of love, affection and care, but they also do acquire their individual spaces as they grow. As the children grow, they acquire knowledge, develop skills and become conscious about them. As they excel in studies, sports, art etc. and are rewarded with praise and prizes, their egos get boost. They start judging others and form their own opinions. They get more and more closer to their friends and share their views and opinions. They develop their own likes and dislikes, different than those of their parents. This process of growing up results in certain amount of generation gap.

By the time the children attain adulthood they have built significant space of their own around them. When they start earning and become financially independant, it is another big booster for their ego and space. Their ego also gives them confidance as well as motivation to excel further. It also gives them immence satisfaction when they succeed and get recognition. However, it also increases their own space.

When they get married, their spouses come from different family back grounds and perhaps a different culture. The spouses would need larger space for themselves before they get emotionally adjusted with their in-laws. A son will certainly like to give that extra space to his wife. However, his parents would be in their fifties at that point of time and occupying respectable positions in their official and social domains. They would be even looking forward for further advancements in their fields and perhaps surrounded by other people continuously praising them sky high (though for their own motives). Thus their egos would also be considerably bloated and expanded their spaces. This combination of enlarged space on both sides can result in a problem of mutual in-acceptance.

Initially there could be minor dissents on points like which vegetable to be cooked, which TV channel to be seen or which brand of toothpaste to be used. These small matters can be easily sorted out by mutual respect and understanding. However, they are symptoms of the underlying clash of spaces and may lead to irritation, discontent, misunderstanding and worse, if not resolved amicably and if the minor incidents of dissent are repeated again and again.

Now a days it so happens in majority of families that the son(s) /daughter(s) go to another city or country in search of job or business. Even if they settle in the same city as their parents, they sometimes decide to live in a separate house for different reasons. They may not get a large enough house to accoodate all. They would like to be lacated closer to their work places and other necessary facilities like schools for chidren and Hospitals for the aged. The house should also be affordable to them. Meeting all these diverse requirements is too difficult in major cities. So they decide to live in separate houses as per their needs and convinience. In these cases everybody gets his/her space and is happy.

However, circumstances start changing after some time, may be after ten, fifteen or twenty years when the parents grow older. Everybody is not able to live yogic way of life and keep his body and mind healthy forever. So the gradual degeneration and weakening of different organs of their bodies due to ageing starts to show up. They cannot work hard for earning a livelyhood and depend on their earnings from past savings and investments. Only a few people get a pension, but others have to manage on their own. In most of the cases their real net  earnings also decline with growing inflation and financial condition becomes weaker. In many cases they become dependant on their kins or the society.

The declining health and financial strength also starts shaking their confidence, deflating their egos and as a result rapid shrinking of their spaces. If the husband and wife are getting differently disabled they can try to compensate for each other's handicap and manage to pull on, maintaining their combined space intact to some extent. As long as both are generally okay, they can employ some helping hands and retain their independence and individual spaces with in their combined space.

However, one of them may meet an accident or run in to a serious health problem needing frequent hospitalization or continuous care, medical treatment and attention. If that happens, the other partner, who has also become weak due to effects of ageing is not able to cope up with the situation and needs external support. When one of them leaves this world, the other is left all alone. Such helpless situation completely busts their egos and reduces their spaces to an extent that they are now prepared to get squeezed in to whatever space available because of their instinct for survival.

Friends, neighbors etc. come to their rescue in such a situation and help them to temporarily tide over some difficult or emergency conditions, but they also cannot be expected to support them permanently. In advanced countries such as USA the social security system takes their care to a large extent. However, in absence of that, the old persons have to fall back on their kith and kin for this purpose. Some people may have their younger brothers or sisters in a better condition, but generally their loving son(s) or daughter(s) comes forward to take their care. Clash of space is no more an issue at this stage of life. Now the old parents are not left with any strong likes, dislikes, opinions etc. nor they have any dreams in their eyes. They are willingly prepared to accept anything without any argument or opposition. Their individual spaces become almost non existent.

Thus most of the people start with a small space in their childhood. The space expands as they grow and it again diminishes in the old age. The expanded space gives them some freedom and a lot of satisfaction during their life, but also keeps them away from their people. Love, affection, compassion, humility, empathy etc. are some of the best remedies to avoid problems created by ill effects of individual spaces.

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