Making Spaces (Riso) The Canopy

Space is important. It can bring opportunity. Potential. Perspective. It can also bring loneliness. Emptiness. Void.

If there is not enough space for the roots. Growth will be stunted. Not enough room for the leaves. Life wilts and doesn’t reach potential. Living things grow into space. If there is no space they move to find the space. The roots will grow deeper. Leaves will find space in a crowded canopy. Creepers climb over others to find the space they need.

As a social species it is important that we can transcend ourselves. Reaching out into our environment to change or interact with it/them. Language is essential in this process of transcendance. Otherwise we are stuck inside ourselves. Isolated and alone. This in turn undermines our physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health.

But how do space and language interact. Language has no mass so surely it needs no space. This would be a very limited view of space. Space is more about potential and possibility rather than the absence of things. Euclidean space allows reflection and rotation of objects. A magnetic field is not empty but a space with potential or possibility for interaction. Even space is not empty but likely filled with dark matter. Even in the absence of a physical thing potential exists. The absence of car in a parking space leaves potential.

Although there is no need for language to occupy a space. We are not for instance limited to how many people could talk in a small room. We do require space for language to carry meaning. For discourse to take place. Because language is not a static thing but a dynamic process. Of course you can look at component parts. Maybe the words. Maybe the sounds. But isolated these are not meaningful. There is not the space or capacity to hear 10 people speaking to you at once. More than this, language, at least meaningful language, requires an element of inflection, communication of yourself and vulnerability. It is making public what is private. You may have felt this telling someone you love them for the first time. Making public an artwork, poem, song, blog, journal. Sharing your biggest hurts. Space is required to let people speak. To encourage transcendence rather than superficial. In healthcare part of our role is to create space for people to communicate their story, their deepest fears and concerns. Too often I would fill the space in my assessments. Some wise words below from @AnjuJaggi.

In medicine language is our greatest tool. The social aspect of humanity gives us the potential to be the greatest carers on the planet (although this is not always so!). As a species we have developed a number of ways to enhance our social interactions or at least to build trust for communication. Laughter is one of these. It is primarily a social action (please refer to this Philosophy Bites podcast for further detail). ‘It is designed to be shared‘. It can indicate depth of relationship. It’s social nature means it either includes (‘laugh with’) or excludes (‘laugh at’ or ‘don’t laugh’). Laughter is used less frequently and less socially with social deprivation or other conditions affecting social connection such as the autism, Down’s syndrome or mental health spectrums.

Laughter is also a catalyst for ‘safe’ play and reduces formality. This may have some benefits if we are wanting people to explore health. If we want to form alliance rather than compliance. Not only this but it helps to reduce cortisol output and releases endorphins. There are even studies looking at medical clowns (we all know at least one of these!) in paediatric settings. Laughing is both emotionally and behaviourally reciprocated and contagious.

This is not a call for us to become amateur comedians! I could think of nothing worse. This is a call to use your humanity to connect with people. To make space for expression. to deliberately make space even when we lack time. To laugh with people even in tough circumstances. To associate laughter with social bonding and not unprofessionalism.

Be more human. Be less robot.

Thanks for reading this far. Again a short song follows to compliment the piece.



sleeping there I’ve let you go

theres no room for you to grow

in the sky, this canopy

there’s no room for you to breathe

you don’t find, you don’t find, you don’t find space or time

what I say, what I say, what I say can make a way

cut this down, prepare the ground

you’re just waiting to be found

with a laugh, you changed me

now I know you’re with me……….


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