Stifling and Space
September 23, 2018
Yi-Fu Tuan in Space and Place says that "solitude is a condition for acquiring a sense of immensity," as our thoughts around other "are pulled back by an awareness of the other personalities who project their own worlds onto the same space."
While at Wild Rivers, I spent as much time as I could sitting alone with my feet dangling over edges of rocky cliffs, listening to and tasting the wind coming up from the river. Though I was sick and so disappointed to never be well enough to make the trek down to the Rio Grande or the Red River, I reveled in the openness, expansiveness, and sense of freedom I felt in those quite moments with 800 feet of vertical breathing room.
"Space, a biological necessity to all animals, is to human beings also a psychological need, a social perquisite, and even a spiritual attribute."
The space (both physical and temporal) I took was a vital mental breath, a resetting from the pressure constraints of such close social and creative contact with a very small group of people that I did not know well and with whom I did not feel entirely comfortable expressing my full range of emotions.
Stifling is the word that comes to mind when I think of that week at Wild Rivers. The gorge saved me, the wind refreshed me, the light moving above/ through/ over the immensity of open air created by that ancient rift in the earth's crust, displaying a history of change and movement more enormous than I can comprehend, kept me grounded when my most basic needs, alone time and a non-fever/ mucus/ misery ridden body, were often inaccessible.
(Did you know that some of the piñon and juniper forests at this site contain trees that are 500 years old or that the Taos Plateau volcanic field has some 22-million-year-old volcanic vents or that some scientists believe that the Rio Grande Rift will become an ocean several million years from now?)
Tuan, Yi-Fu. Space and Place: the Perspective of Experience. University of Minnesota Press, 2014.