Humans fight for turf as much as animals. That I can tell you with surety because when you go down to our base levels, you’ll find this immutable desire within all of us to define our territory and guard it. I was faced with a simple example of this recently on a flight back home. Happily seated on the aisle seat, I was enjoying my space because there was a free seat between me and the window seat guy.
We eyed each other and being the Pakistani gentleman he was, he allowed me to place my belongings all over the seat. But of course, he couldn’t allow me to hog the whole space, and he coyly wedged in his newspaper between my various bags to let me know that he was ok with me having the seat but he had some claim to it too. I was only too happy to share it with his newspaper. No big deal.
But my joy about the newfound space was short-lived. Soon we were joined by a significantly sized man who happily plopped himself between us, barely giving me any time to yank my belongings from under his spread-out self. He gave me a large grin and proceeded to make himself comfortable. Previously, I had been sharing an extra space with a stranger. But this man wanted something a bit more. He was trying to lay claim to the armrest. That’s not on buddy, I thought to myself as I firmly tried to edge my arm so that it was obvious I was not going to be intimidated by mere uncomfortableness.
I hastily put on my headphones, asserting my lack of interest in this childish fight for supremacy. But middle-man wasn’t going to accept lack of acknowledgement as defeat. Just as I am about to begin my movie, he decides to nudge me a little, peeking into my screen. It seemed we were going to be watching this movie together. I threw him a dirty look and angled my screen up. Our battle on the armrest continued. I took every opportunity to claim the space every-time he shifted to belt his buckle or reach for the headphones.
But this man was relentless. He had decided that since he was larger in size, it was only fair that I give him a share of my space. But no way Jose. You must comply with space laws regardless of how many pounds you’ve packed on yourself.
And so it continued, this fight for supremacy, with both of us unwilling to give up our space regardless of how uncomfortable this battle was becoming for me. Eventually, his relentlessness and my rapid lack interest in resting my arm ended with him taking over and me almost falling over towards the aisle, saving my head from being bashed by the food trays.
But you see, the inane nature of possessiveness lives within all of us. Some can rise above it and some needed constant prodding and discomfort before we realize supremacy doesn’t offer the rewards we were hoping it would.