Space is more than an area. You put on your earphones and you are already locked into your own world. Space is personal. When romantic couples felt choked with and by each other they demand that they are given space for a while… or for a lifetime. Space is a relationship. A student in an examination who would fail would have a lot of space in the test paper. Space is intelligence and the lack of it. And usually, when I conduct a conference or at Mass, it is observable that the front seats are the last ones getting filled up. How do you call such space then? Lastly, how would you feel when somebody you admire says to you, “You have a big space in my heart.” Love is making space.

Consider the Philippines-China maritime dispute. What is it all about but space? How about the woes of businesspeople along the so-called Tourism Mile of our city? Lack of parking space means a turn-off to customers which is tantamount to losses in revenues. And what have you with the Pala-One and 3-in-1 fracas. To divide the place in order to create some more spaces… aimed at delivering basic services or just to satisfy political thirst? And in a recent SWS survey, a large majority of Filipinos are worried about the influx of foreign Chinese workers in the country. The said presence is seen as both a threat to local employment and to the national territory. All said, space is worth fighting for.

Down the line, I was pretty much alarmed on reports about suicides lately. There have just been unprecedented times of media interviews wanting to get my side as the Chairman of the Philippine Mental Health Association here in Palawan. My foregone conclusion is that depression is about a person who is helplessly crowded – a mind loaded with confusion and a heart drown in bitterness. More often than not, a “crowded” self is actually about that lack of space for a breather, a lack of space to smell the flowers, a lack of space to laugh at one’s mistakes, a lack of space to become mababaw and corny at times, a lack of space to appreciate simple gestures of care coming from loved ones, and more importantly a lack of space for God. To combat depression, one must have a strong grounding. This ground is nothing else but that sacred space within the self, our very self.

Moreover, more practical unsolicited advice must be called for in ordinary living. Make space between you and your gadget (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.). Evidence is mounting that there is a strong connection between social media and depression. Study reveals that persons who spend more than three hours a day on social media are more likely to develop mental health issues including depression, anxiety, aggression and antisocial behavior (JAMA Psychiatry). Warning, irresponsible use of connections (social media and otherwise) can lead to depression. It goes without saying then that anything in excess and in abuse will result in death, albeit untimely and pathetically. And on the contrary, they say in Latin -“virtus in medio stat”.

In the common public sphere, it is usual to fight for one’s space. Otherwise, you will be eaten up in a dog-eat-dog world and be trampled underfoot in a rat race. While it is indeed legally correct to claim for such right there is also that nobler cause of giving up space. In the long run and in the end, it is the humble indeed who will inherit and enjoy the much greater space – the Kingdom. And the unjust? They will also have a different kind of space. Simply put in Tagalog, meron silang kalalagyan.

Where in this world would we find a better space like no other? French philosopher Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest, has this ardent prayer – “Enfold me, O God, in the depths of your heart;  and there hold me, refine, purge, and set me on fire…”

I have already said that much. Perhaps, it now time that you will have space to chew on your own. May you find yourself as well in a place you so well-deserved in the web of life.

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