In My Space
Inside the Outdoors, July 1
, 2011

There is something about magnets I’ve always found attractive. They can either attract or repel. It has to do with polarity. You can’t say that about many of any other objects. That is what I find fascinating about them.

I’m going to begin by telling you a fictitious story about a teen named Bobby Hood. Let’s call him magnet one. Everyone with whom he associates is magnet two. So let’s begin.

It was a beautiful sunny day. Bobby had decided to walk down to the park and enjoy the great outdoors. He was one of those fellows who loved fresh air, admired the wildlife around him and even prayed as he walked. His destination – Ruthie's’ Runoff.

Peers had already gathered in a group near the popular swimming hole at a creek about a mile from his home. As he got closer to the others, one of the girls called out to Bobby,

“Come on in, the water’s great!” As he drew closer to them, I guess you could say, his adrenaline kicked in and he started to move toward their direction. He was oblivious to everything around him. All he could think of was the cool water and the girl’s invitation.

As he neared closer, it was like two magnets coming together each being drawn by the other. The girl was being pulled by the guy, and the fellow the girl, the same as though two magnets were approaching each other, both placed to attract each other.

Everything was fine as Bobby rounded the corner. He could hear the screams of both genders as they swung on the rope, letting go in the air and jumping into the water. Conversations were clear. Everything each person said about the present activities and future plans were verbally distinctive.

Walking over to a nearby tree, he leaned against it and took off his shoes and socks. All was going well according to Mary Beth Yaeger’s plans of wanting him to join her. As he started to make his way toward her, a turn of events suddenly occurred that brought the lad to a quick halt. Out of his peripheral vision he caught sight of a young man coming toward him. Feeling intimidated, Bobby stopped and stood there for a while not knowing exactly what to do. As the fellow, who we will call Addy Bittner, advanced and came within feet of his person, he started moving backwards, the same action taken as though one magnet was approaching another, this time reversed so it would repel

It was as if one magnet sent vibrations to the other pushing the other back. And maybe that’s how it works, I don’t know. Physics and I really never got along, even though I thought if my teacher hadn’t been Greek and American instead, I may have made an attempt at learning the subject. But since what he said was all Greek to me, I had to drop it after three days.

The question that arises is why did Bobby move back? When two magnets come close to each other, why does one move back very much the same way? I can explain what goes on psychologically, but not materialistically. Human beings have a sacred space, usually two to three feet in front of them. When people invade that space, they tend to step backwards. Not everyone’s the same. My comfort zone is about 30 inches give or take five inches. But don’t make it 20 inches or less because I’ll notably move backward.

Now, flip one of those magnets upside down and all of a sudden, two magnets will be drawn to each other, just as two people very much in love each other in their space for an embrace of endearment. I can only assume Addy and Mary Beth have these feelings.

Bobby was not aware that Mary Beth was Addy’s girlfriend. Even though she called to him originally, he didn’t realize he was walking into a threatening situation. He decided to stay clear of his female classmate.

And even though this story was not real, I can tell of a happening that occurred to a friend recently. A man, down on his luck, so to speak, was talking to a middle-aged woman. He had come up to her and started telling her about losing a job and asked if she would pray for him to win the lottery. As he pleaded his case, he kept moving closer to her face. Feeling very uncomfortable, she politely moved back a step at a time. In true form, he was in her space. What started out as an outreach of friendship resulted uncomfortable dilemma, at least for the woman. Who knows, his space may have been less than hers. The polarity of the magnets were set to attract at first and then repel.

To be on the safe side, stay within 30 inches. Then everyone will be happy, hopefully.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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