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My largest organ is my skin and it encapsulates my mind and body. Like a cell membrane, it “breathes”, it absorbs and it leaks. Even now, it is allowing substances to enter or leave my system.

The Things That Touch Me

I exist amidst a microcosm of interacting materials and substances. everything from my skin and outward; my apparel, my accessories, the surfaces, furniture and devices in my home or wherever I may be — that is my personal space.

All of my things are made of matter. Matter, interestingly, crumbles and decays. It freezes and it melts. It evaporates and condenses; deposits, sublimates and ablates. It phase transitions through various forms of solid, liquid, gas and plasma. The introduction of heat, friction and electrical forces compels matter to change forms by decomposing and recomposing in the presence of other forms of matter. It undergoes these changes seemingly of its own accord through random interactions. I may set up the initial conditions but matter is doing all of the work according to fixed rules. This rich field of knowledge called chemistry models the microcosm of material at the foundation of every ecosystem both biological and artificial.

My mind and body are an “open system” encapsulated by my skin. This means that material and energy are exchanged through the membrane of my skin with the surrounding environment. The things that touch me “leak” into my being and I leak into them. For the purposes of language, boundaries evoke an impression of concrete definitive borders; for instance the boundaries of geography, my home or my skin. However, these notions of boundary are just conceptual shortcuts. They refer to membranes, fuzzy with feedback loops, which allow certain materials to pass through while denying access to others.

My personal space is filled with objects. Objects with particular chemistry that I’ve collected over decades and keep in places under my control: such as my work area; my home, yard, and vehicle. Metaphorically, my head space along with my mind and body form a kind of cell nucleus. The boundary of my home; its walls, doors and windows, are a kind of cell membrane allowing materials to pass in and out of my personal space. This personal space of mine really is an ecosystem, filled with interacting substances and materials. It is imperative then to understand the artifacts in my personal space as an extension of my mind and body giving me the power to shape this ecosystem.

An ecosystem is a biological community of organisms and the physical environment through which they interact. I may feel separated but I am not separate from the Earth’s ecosystem. My world is filled with life. On Earth, where the various branches of life interact, ecosystems create themselves. The ecosystem self organizes balance, searching for alignment between its various organisms, while exhibiting self-sustaining and regenerative qualities. The objects in my personal space and I, myself, are apart of this greater ecosystem. My existence and the objects I possess are apart of its life cycles. Look around my personal space, my little corner of Earth, because this is the part of the ecosystem that I’ve assembled. I am working to bring it into alignment with the whole, to construct an ecosystem that is alive rather than dead.

This is the purpose of my personal space: to contain the objects and resources that meet the priorities for the provision of well-being. Well-being is defined simply as food, energy, water and shelter in abundance. It is not a general state of happiness, but access to the tools and resources to manufacture happiness, in my own way. The objects in my personal space should be essential to this effort. Useless excess that does not achieve a priority of well-being is undesirable. Look around my personal space, could it be lacking in essentials or perhaps cluttered with useless excess?

This chapter explores my personal space as an ecosystem under my stewardship. Identifying a purpose and priority to obtain and organize the objects in my personal space through a criteria of mindful consumption. Empowering a new avatar to create an ecosystem at home and shift the locus of control by recognizing a new origin for these materials and objects. I am the agent of my own care and deserve the means and the time to enjoy my creature comforts. I believe that when my personal space reflects a designed ecology, routine rituals will yield an abundance of time to recline. I can either recognize the differences between what is necessary or superfluous to achieving these goals, or come to terms with the implications of continuing to neglect them.

Go through Personal Space and put these criteria to work in your life. Equip yourself with the tools to choose the things that touch you, prioritize the essential with an understanding of the life cycle of these objects. Eliminate useless excess and save your time caring only for the things you need.