Taking up space? 占用空间

2020.06.30

Reader question:

Please explain "taking up space" in this sentence: As a political analyst, if you're not making enemies, you're just taking up space.

My comments:

A political analyst is a pundit who tries to see through what a politician says or does in order to help the public form an opinion - or perhaps change an opinion.

Politics being politics, one's analysis may make friends or enemies for the analyst.

Politics being politics? By that I mean people have different political positions, either on the left, right and middle of the road, either progressive, conservative and anything else in between, the green, e.g.

Because of that, that people have their different politics, what you say, whatever you say, is likely to cause disagreement, offense or even enmity.

Enmity denotes feelings of an enemy, someone in opposition, someone hostile.

Hence the remark that if you're not making enemies, you're taking up space.

Meaning?

This means you're not doing your job. If you don't have your readers enthused and sometimes riled up, you are not doing a good job. Instead, you're merely eating your meals, as the Chinese say, and wasting your time and ours as well.

Oh, taking up space.

Taking up space? It's easy to get the hang of this idiom by imagining a large piano in a small room.

You know, for example, some parents buy a large piano for their prodigal child to practice on - in the hope that someday, the child will become the next Lang Lang or something.

The room in which the piano is put, however, is small, with the piano, like, occupying more than half of the space.

Time flies and a few years later, the child leaves home for college - which leaves the parents with a dilemma. What do we do with the piano?

Keep it where it is makes some sense, in that it reminds them of their child. However, removing them also makes a lot of sense. It frees up space for the parents to put other furniture in.

None of the parents being musically literate, the piano looks useless now that the child is gone.

Now, you get it. That piano, with the child gone, does nothing but take up space - it merely takes up space.

Yes, "take UP" has a slight negative connation to it.

OK, no more ado, here are media examples of people and things that just take up space in one situation or another:

1. Dealing with anxiety has always been something that was “normal” for me. I’m an over-thinker and an over-analyzer to the nth degree. If I didn’t worry so much, maybe I would forget that Monday meeting I needed to prep for. Or, maybe if I didn't over-analyze, I would have dropped the ball on planning my BFF's birthday party. Because anxiety is something I’ve always dealt with, it’s almost like it’s a part of me — a part of who I am.

When I found out I carry a mutation on my BRCA gene (aka the breast cancer susceptibility gene) in March 2018, and that I have a greatly increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, you can only imagine how intense my anxiety became. My “normal” anxiety went from livable to unbearable. I couldn’t focus at work, my heart was racing, I couldn’t eat or sleep, and I sometimes felt numb of any emotion. It guess it's all fun and games until someone tells you carry an 85% chance of developing breast cancer.

After I found out I carry the BRCA 2 mutation, I knew I needed to make some tough decisions. One of those tough decisions was deciding if I wanted to have surgery to reduce my risk of breast cancer. It was my anxiety that actually led me to make the decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy. I can’t stress enough how much of a personal decision it is for women carrying the breast cancer gene to have this surgery or not. But for me, I knew what I could handle and I knew what I couldn’t.

I’m the person who gets anxiety about flying, work meetings, and first dates. I knew my anxiety about developing breast cancer wasn’t just going to just go away. And honestly, it would probably only get worse. If I had decided to go the surveillance route, every six months I would have had to get a breast MRI and a mammogram and wait to hear my results. I didn't want to face that anxiety every six months, so I elected to have a prophylactic double mastectomy. Even though that surgery was terrifying and comes with its own set of anxious feelings and emotions — like having panic attacks about being under the knife for so long and fearing the unknown — I knew ultimately this was better for my mental health and well-being.

...

Through this journey, I realized that no matter how many times I thought about what could happen, it didn't change anything. All of the time I spent over-thinking and worrying only took up space in my head and time away from me. Even though I'm always going to be a bit anxious and scared of mostly everything, I learned that I have more power over this than I thought. I can get the help that I need, I can take steps to help improve my quality of life and I can share my struggles with others. And, yes, this BRCA diagnosis will always give me some unpleasant feelings and worries, but it's also given me a new perspective on life and a new perspective of myself. And even more, it gave a deeper look into my own mental health.

- My Mental Health After My BRCA Diagnosis Made Me Take A Look At My Self-Care Practices, by Sara Altschule, May 20, 2019.

2. For nearly 15 minutes on Friday afternoon, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love delivered a powerful commencement speech to the Class of 2020 as part of Verizon’s virtual commencement series, “Class of 2020: Ready for Anything.”

Love, an outspoken advocate for mental health and founder of the Kevin Love Fund, shared personal words of wisdom and experience while also challenging graduates to write their own story.

During and after his speech, Love referenced some of his favorite books -- “The Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius, “The Hilarious World of Depression” by John Moe, “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” by Yuval Noah Harari and “Range” by David Epstein. All of those books have had a profound impact on Love in some way, allowing him to better understand himself and helping him learn how to cope with obstacles while living a better, more fulfilling life. Love also quoted William Shakespeare and Robin Williams.

"Are you ready to write your own story,” Love asked during his intro. “Will you determine what your verse will be or will you let someone else pick up the pen and write it for you?”

Love’s speech centered on leadership, life lessons, dreaming big, finding balance, overcoming obstacles, togetherness, the importance of paying it forward and speaking your truth.

...

Love -- who has been open about his struggles with anxiety, panic attacks and depression -- admitted those mental health issues nearly consumed him in the past. The pandemic continues to test him -- and others -- on a daily basis. It threatens society in countless ways, even taking away the game he loves temporarily. But Love believes the most excruciating part is the isolation. So, he shared tips on coping, spoke about the importance of living in the moment and trying -- if possible -- to pull some positives out of this.

"If COVID-19 hasn’t taught us something monumental then we haven’t been listening,” he said. “The worst that can come from this unimaginable time in history is that as people, a generation and individuals, we go unchanged. Be grateful for what we have. We need to make the most of what we have right now. I think this moment has reminded us just how fragile life is.

"Everyone wants to be on the winning side of history and instead of just taking up space we want to know that we’ve added value to the world. It’s up to you to determine your destiny. Meet your future halfway. Generation Z has been tested by chaos. This is your opportunity to put fear and doubt behind. Dream bigger than big. Write a different story for yourself because, as a generation, you have a potential impact that few others have ever had. It’s up to each of you to make that matter.”

- Kevin Love delivers powerful commencement speech to Class of 2020, encourages them to find ‘North Star’ and write own story, Cleveland.com, May 29, 2020.

3. There’s an old joke about treadmills. It goes something like this:

One time I bought a treadmill, now it’s the most expensive clothes hanger in my home.

People laugh—they know it’s true.

The fact is we often buy items with good intentions but never end up using them.

Of course, in the scenario above, if the treadmill was only serving as an extra clothes hanger in the corner of our bedroom, that would be one thing. But the reality is, that unused item is more than a hanger.

It is taking up space—lots of it.

It is taking up valuable physical space in your home.

It’s another physical object, in your home, that you need to dust and clean and vacuum around. It’s just another thing to walk around every day… or pack up when you move.

But more than physical space, it also takes up mental space in your mind.

As Randy Alcorn says, “Every increased possession adds increased anxiety onto our lives.” And that is definitely true.

- Your Stuff is Only Taking Up Space, BecomingMinimalist.com, June 6, 2020.

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About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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