We all dream of having time to ourselves. We think about what we would do if we had “the time”. We visualize our lives with “time” built in as a default, and what it must be like to live a life where we have more time. Is “time” another word for personal space? Time for ourselves? To be alone with ourselves? To Be?
While I was living in India, I saw personal space as not much of an issue with my Indian friends. Growing up in their culture, in their families, in their day to day living, there was little desire to be alone, or to have personal space and reflection time. Personal space is replaced here with a sharing of experiences with family and friends and designing a life around people….the more, the merrier. People usually are not found alone, they do not eat alone, live alone, shop alone, go out at night alone, or desire to be alone. Personal space is something that morphs into everyone else’s personal space amid the laughter, the chatter, the eating and the socializing. Because, people are mostly content with the status quo, and enjoy and seek out the company of others, there is no need to seek out personal space or ‘me’ time. or is this just “what they know” and nothing more?
In contrast, in the western world, and indeed, in my world, there is a preoccupation with finding that personal space, of connecting to oneself and being alone. It is something that is highly regarded in our western culture as precious, and valuable to have, if you are so fortunate as to be able to seize it. Personal Space. Getting into our own hearts and head, so to speak. Ironically, we do this… we want this, so we an connect better…to ourselves, to others and the outside world. So, is the treasure hunt just alluding us? Do we not see it hiding in this forest of dreams? We try to do things to find it, like go on solo vacations, retreats, Caminos, planning retirement etc, to bring us back in touch with ourselves, when all along, what usually gives most pleasure is being surrounded by those you love.
The Camino, allows for that personal space, and a lot of it. As much as you want. One can connect with people, if one desires, or retreat and be alone, if that is more important at the time. One has the freedom to choose how to be, when and how to interact and when not to. Yes, it is true, that that personal space and time alone allows for internal processing, refection and growth. This is also necessary. What I am questioning here, is the preoccupation of it and validity. However, I have personally valued the opportunity of space and time while walking on the Camino, but, I do know as well, that the most memorable times, the happiest times on the Camino, were not those of finding my personal space, and walking alone but of sharing with others and being with others.
So today, I am challenging myself to relinquish some of that treasure hunt for personal space and instead, look to surround myself with groups of friends or family and just let go.
Buen Camino My Friends!