The Neglected Space of the Other
By: Marjory Mejia
Life brims on the fringes, with a different kind of order, which we call the OTHER.
This Other is nature, woman, the feminine. An order we don’t yet understand and therefore neglect, ignore, demonize and suppress. The result is neglected people, neglected spaces, and neglected ideas. Life on the edge is not always glamorous when the OTHER isn’t respected, heard, or seen. And yet according to Taoist philosophy, it is the seed, the minority, the other, which holds the most power and potential for fuller manifestation.
“The cosmos is an organism at once real, living, and sacred…which renews itself periodically.” ~Mircea Eliade
The pendulum is swinging. Another world is pulsing its way into being. The spaces we create and inhabit want to be like the ecosystems of nature: dwellings, communities, and cities as organisms, expressions of consciousness thriving with diversity, multiplicity, and the active participation of every part of the whole.
Why write about the other? In some ways, I couldn’t be more part of the other: I am a lover of nature, spirit and mystery, a creative, a woman. The color of my skin isn’t white and my mother tongue isn’t English. I come from another land with another perspective-speaking of the emotional, spiritual & sensual dimensions of space seeking an integral experience. Letting this post marinate in my heart has allowed me to see, explore, discover so much more. I hope you can enjoy.
The Neglected Space of the Other
You can tell the values and principles of a society by looking at the way it orders, organizes, inhabits and celebrates space. It is so easy to love well loved spaces. Think of your favorite park, piazza, and promenade; they enliven you and the community. And as much as I love to put myself in places that inspire me to absorb their wisdom and energy, I can’t help but care for the neglected spaces in our lives. They abound, neglected spaces where life force is isolated, ostracized, shut down.
Whatever or whoever does not conform to the ideal is cast aside through a process of segregation, which parallels the way we shut down part of our own psyche (shadow). I think this only points to our inability as a society to integrate repressed aspects of self. Sadly, we cluster together, isolate, forget and hide away what we consider outcast, inferior, weaker, dangerous and useless in reservations, asylums, shelters, orphanages, prisons, zoos, animal labs, nursing homes, abandoned spaces, the list goes on…
These are somehow spaces that exist on the fringes of what is considered acceptable. No wonder many citizens of such spaces prefer roaming free in the streets to living in spaces devoid of soul where it is difficult to connect to their own sense of self, each other, and world.
But we don’t need to travel far to discover neglected spaces, we all have them well within our reach. Whether it is the backyard, the porch, the creative office, the bathroom or the closet full of old skeletons, each one of these spaces represents a repressed area of our life that we are unwilling to see, feel, and embrace: creativity, spirituality, sensuality or any realm that could take us over the edge with its Otherness…
So, what is this Otherness?
Michel Foucault writes:
The history of madness would be the history of the Other – of that which, for a given culture, is at once interior and foreign, therefore to be excluded ( so as to exorcise the interior danger) but by being shut away (in order to reduce its otherness); whereas the history of the order imposed on things would be the history of the Same…In attempting to uncover the deepest strata of Western culture, I am restoring to our silent and apparently immobile soil its rifts, its instability, its flaws; and it is the same ground that is once more stirring under our feet. ~ M. Foucault
The irony is that many of us are sensing a feeling of imprisonment despite our physical freedom. Could this alienation be pointing to the parts of us that are shoved down deep under the surface of our consciousness, awareness, and experience?
In the words of Einstein:
A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘Universe’ —a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. ~ Einstein
Our consciousness is yearning to expand and integrate the voice of the OTHER.
The voice of the Other has something to tell us, a secret, a gift to help us unlock our own insanity disguised as progress, a voice urging us to re-integrate the Other into a full and sacred experience of life. This integration would entail the disruption of the ‘same’ that Foucault talks about. The spaces, people and ideas we neglect are the keys to our healthy growth and expansion. At some point, we realize that there is no ‘other.’
How do we make space for this otherness, our own and beyond?
Love the OTHER until it becomes a vital part of the whole. Love the Other until the unlovable, unspeakable, untouchable, ineffable within and around us becomes a portal to oneness. Until our creations, our systems, our structures, our cities, our hearts evolve to allow for stronger currents of flow, awareness, and love. Until we join forces and transform spaces of neglect, confinement, limitation and suffering into spaces of healing, freedom, and inspiration.
PS. Dear wanderer, what are your feelings reading these thoughts? What is your own experience of the Other within and around you? Do you have a neglected space in your life you could relate to? Please comment below or hit reply, I would love to know.. Please share this post if you found it useful in some way. Thanks for joining me in this exploration! Gracias.