Posted by: Elron Mings | 21July2018

A Room of One’s Own

As I am not about to try to plagiarize the wonderful essay by Virginia Woolf, but wish to speak somewhat on a (somewhat) related topic, I thought an ode to the great writer would be apt. She was a fantastic author, who died too young… And though her essay was more specific to women, the center theme is one that I feel is universally important.
As I am personally aware of not only the importance, but the limitations of not having “A Room of One’s Own”, I thought it relevant to borrow her wonderful title, and use it to simultaneously honor her and put forth my own thoughts on the topic to which I so completely concur, and so deeply desire.
Virginia’s essay was not so much about the physical space, but more importantly, of the oppression(s) she and every woman suffered (or was suffering) at the early part of the 20th century. It is something too many women today are still afflicted by, and were it only one woman it would still be too many! I Pray I am alive to see a serious and meaningful change in -if not the end of- the way women are treated in this world! They deserve better, and are better than their more hairy and “masculine” counterparts, and their continued oppression and mistreatment by a misogynistic “majority” (of men) must STOP!!
But I digress… that will be an essay I write in much greater detail at another time. This particular post is more about SPACE. That all too precious commodity that is becoming increasingly difficult for [us] to find, make, or invent for ourselves, in which we may be without concern more (or most) truly ourselves, without fear of repercussion, or observation, or interruption, or any one of a dozen and more disturbances of our most precious form of expression; self-expression.
I refer not just to privacy (though that is indeed a major “bullet point” for this writing), but to the freedom to act! Without feeling the need to be concerned about what any other might say/do/think/feel about it, without having to censor ones self in any manner, to simply be, in the moment, in that space, YOU in the truest sense! It is a luxury, that instead should be a given, but our society has not made that easy, and in too many cases, even possible!
So sacred a habitat (dwelling, if you prefer) is not so far removed from the memory(ies) of the older generation(s). It was, in fact, a way of Life. Beyond the threshold was a place one could find solitude, rest, freedom from intrusion, and a modicum of control over the environment therein. Though such realms do still exist, they are not the bastions of freedom they once were, as society (via technology) has found 100s (working towards 1000s) of ways in which to intrude, and worse yet, for you to invite the intrusion! Our phones, desktops, and laptops are being watched, as well as watching us, as are our T.V.s, our temperature control(s), our audio devices… the more “tech” the dwelling, the less likely you are to have any “real” freedom from observation, and the more likely it is you are being observed, in one form another, or many!
And this is but a single example. The ability to obtain these spaces is becoming increasingly elitist, as prices for housing, even rental and apartments, continues to rise, while the living wage remains woefully stagnant, and homelessness is on the rise around the globe in lieu thereof!! This trend is not new, nor the situation(s) putting us there, but we are becoming increasingly numb to the evidences, and blind/deaf to the signals that they’re only getting worse!
As a resident in a “transitional housing” facility, I am afforded a bed, in a room I share with a maximum of three other people. Currently it’s two. This house holds (a maximum) of 8 men, and 4 women. We are allowed to be at the house (with access to our rooms) between 1800 (6 p.m.) and 0800 (8 a.m.), in which time we have chores to do, meals to eat, clothes to wash, showers to take, and lights out at 2300 (11 p.m.). It means our living is structured (not necessarily a bad thing), and we must be adaptable to the personality(ies) of all those in residence, as well as the staff who facilitate our Living circumstances.
It is a wonderful program! The people involved (on both sides) are Good people, the staff are genuine, caring, and more than willing to go the extra mile (or a dozen) to help you succeed in getting back on your feet, to the extent that we are capable of subsistence on our own. It is an 18 month program, and their are “rules” that must be followed (such as doing our chores before “lights out”, not cooking after 2030 [so the person who has the “main” kitchen to clean can get it done), but, for basically rent free living (one might consider our “chores” “rent”), it’s a sweet deal!
But there is no such thing as “privacy”. Though I am MUCH more free here than where I came from, and 12 people (at max, not including staff) is NOTHING compared to 100+ (again, not including staff), this (for me) takes its toll. I have been nearly non-stop in the presence of other people (…people not “Family” or “Friends” or “Loved Ones”) for more than 8 years. I Love people, but I also value privacy. The chance to “get away”. The circumstances of my Life have not allowed this for some time, and won’t for some time yet. I’m okay with that, I accept it, and, again, I am quite Blessed to be where I am! It is amazing to me that I have been (and continue to be) so very Blessed with my present living conditions. But they run contrary to the ideal that we “all” pursue. That personal space to call “your own”. To do “as you please”. To work when you want, goof off as you please (or not), come and go as you wish, have company (or not)…
(Hour long tangent deleted… LOL)
Space is precious. It is a commodity. And to co-exist in today’s “modern” society, we must be willing to pay for it, ’cause we can’t get it -legally- for free. And there are a myriad of associated costs (that also continue to rise) which we must also pay for. Where does it end? To what length are we willing to go to secure this illusive “freedom”? And how much -space- do we truly need?
This post is leaving with more questions than answers, but it is important we consider them. For we, as a societal whole, determine the answers to many of them. So long as we are residing in these United States, we have the RIGHT to choose our elected officials, who determine the outcome of many of the variables that structure our livelihood(s), and so should be concerned with WHO we want representing us, and what regulations/allowances are to be made to govern us. If we want to have the option to obtain “A Room of One’s Own”, we should be willing to ensure we are “led” by those whose interests align with our own. If not, we will very quickly find ourselves without the option(s) we once found and took “for granted”, and have no one but ourselves to blame.


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