Taking Up Space
For a basic (one might suppose
inherently neutral) law of physics,
the phrase has nevertheless garnered
a lion’s share of unfriendly users
in the low-rent back roads of
the vernacular. Many among us,
in truth, would far prefer the
virulent lash of a “Bitch!” or
a “Bastard!” to being leveled
by the contemptuous (and worse,
dismissive) charge of taking up space.
How did this bland and unassuming
verbal ever acquire such impressive
heft, such a daunting capacity
for dispensing devastation?
Isn’t the knowledge—seldom consciously
considered, to be sure—that we are
space-occupying organisms, assuredly
solid masses in an otherwise vast and
vaporous world—a consolation of
the highest order? If we were totally
honest, could any of us (whether the
smallest of spatial consumers or the
awesome grand-daddies of corporeal
excess), if pressed, ever willingly
surrender our solidity?—Let our bodies
be slowly siphoned away into the ether
until there’s nothing left behind?
No unsightly blemishes. No one fleshy
spare tire too many. No blinding and
unasked-for flash of celluloid thigh to
offend our (rapidly waning) sensibilities.
No. Better by far to revel in our
modest allocation of earth and air, to
prop our flip-flops proudly up on
the deck chair in front of us and lift
our faces—glorious geometry of all
manner of matter—to the thousand
and sensual gifts of the sun.