One-space, two-space, three-space

Six summers ago I travelled from Italy to Switzerland. I took a train from Perugia to Florence and then one from Florence to Milan, where after a traumatic wait in a large, loud, dirty and steaming hot station, I took another train to Visp and then I caught my final connection from Visp to Zermatt — home of the Matterhorn.

The train from Visp to Zermatt was the most scenic train journey of my life to date and made up for a long day of heart-racing connections lugging around killer luggage without much time to stop for food or water.

Having been in Perugia for a family christening, I went to Zermatt at the invitation of my friend Dr. Edy who was spending a couple of weeks enjoying the summertime Alps with a group of her friends.

During my brief stay Edy and I took a long hike through the mountains over the course of which she told me about one-space, two-space, three-space. I’d never heard of this theory and while I’ve never forgotten it, I’ve also never managed to track down its source. I don’t know if it’s philosophical or sociological or architectural or psychological.

I don’t know if it’s an Edy-Original or whether she was relaying stuff she learnt on her travels or studies. But here’s what she told me:

  • One-space refers to time alone — without one-space there is no reflection or wisdom
  • Two-space refers to time with another — without two-space there is no intimacy or deep bonding
  • Three-space refers to time amongst several (three & more) — without three-space there are no possibilities or new ideas about how to solve age-old problems.

The first two bullets speak for themselves (in my mind), but it hadn’t occurred to me before this chat with Edy, to reflect on the exact nature of the pleasure I experience around a table of friends or at a dinner party of acquaintances (i.e., three-space.)

Groups (in my case, small groups) are enjoyable because whatever is lost in terms of time for personal reflection or intimate têteàtête‘s, there’s so much more random stimulation. Also I find it extremely relaxing to dilute the intensity of keeping the attention of just one other person (which is how I spend much more of my social time — with one friend at a time.)

One-space, two-space, three-space nourishes us in different ways, each of us have different preferences (which can shift with age or circumstance) for how much we need of each type of space — each of us also have different talents in each of these spaces. I’m often the listener (in two-space) and the harmonizer (in three-space).

The challenge is knowing ourselves well enough and finding the balance. Hence today’s final card comes from the Tarot.  The Temperance card shows an angel balancing one foot in the water and one on land as she mixes her wine with some water.

At the most literal level the card represents moderation and balance, but this card also promises the benefits that accompany these two elements: health, harmony & healing. I suspect these are the real gifts of getting our one-space, two-space, three-space right.


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