Issue #199 / July 2022
Do you have a safe space? How would you describe it?
ARIANNA, MILAN, ITALY
Safe spaces these days feel hard to come by – the world, in its nature, feels precarious and unsafe. But, after thinking about it for a while, I arrived at an answer which is probably kind of corny and influenced by the fact that, at the time of writing, I have been on tour for six weeks and, well, I miss my wife. My answer also involves a happy and serendipitous accident upon which the life I live now is built – having found a partner who loves me and whom I love. I understand that, in this regard, I am extraordinarily fortunate, and hugely privileged. I am happily married.
But my ‘safe space’ is not the marriage itself. Far from it. A marriage is many things, and barely any of them are safe. A marriage, at its best, is challenging, dangerous, complicated and meaningful, and requires, like anything of true value, a certain amount of sacrifice and a certain amount of work. Inside it exists sorrows and joys, both big and small, and failures and triumphs too. But within this complex marital vortex there is, for me, a constant that never waivers – and here lies my safe space. My safe space is in the regard of my wife’s gaze. By this I mean when I look into the eyes of my wife I find a beauty, and this beauty has a moral value, of goodness; a goodness that manifests as a kind of benevolence. And that goodness reflects back and elicits my own goodness and, in turn, the necessary goodness of the world. Within this incoming and outpouring of reciprocal regard lies our mutual protection which is my saving and my wife’s saving. Put simply, we see each other, and through that seeing we want the best for each other, without condition – she has me and I have her. There, in the benevolent eyes of my wife, is my safest space and my truest privilege.