That’s either here or there

Posted on February 24, 2012


Seriously? You expect me to come when called? (Image from aka Kath, Flikr)

Suppose I have a cat in the next room and I say, “Come here!” What do I expect it to do?

Okay, it’s a cat, so I don’t expect it to do anything.

So let’s say I have a dog in the next room and I say, “Come here!”

Normally, I would  be expecting it to come right to where I’m standing.

In other words, “here” is exactly where I am.

But now suppose there’s a person in the next room, and I say, “Come here!” In this case, I would probably consider that he had obeyed the request if he simply came to the door and said, “What?”

In this case, “here” is simply within my field of vision.

I bring this up because while I was staying with Flo this week, my daughter called. Flo always uses the speaker phone, which I seem incapable of dealing with, so outside of calling out a quck “Hello!” I really didn’t say much. It turns out that my daughter, who lives in Texas, was arranging to drop in on Flo at some point in the next few days. When the call was over I asked, “So when is she coming?” Flo said, “Oh, she’s already here.”

Well, obviously, she wasn’t “here” in the sense of being either right where we were, nor was she “here” in the sense of being anywhere within our field of vision. In reality, she was with her mother in Dunnville, about 80 miles away.

So when, exactly, does “here” become “there”?

I’ve been puzzling over this and haven’t been able to come to a definite conclusion on the matter, but it seems related to our personal space as it pertains to our intention at that particular moment. For instance, if I ask someone to “throw that book over here,” I mean that I want them to throw it directly to me. But if I ask someone to “put the vase here,” then I expect them to put it where my hand is tapping the table beside me.

Cover of "Remember, Be Here Now"

Baba Ram Dass dealt with “here” in an even more direct fashion. In his book, Remember, Be Here Now, the “here” to which he was referring was not only within  our bodies and minds, but within a particular unit of time as well. It was entreating us to be within the very centre of ourselves at that particular moment.

And just as “here” can sometimes be miles away, “there” can sometimes be intimately close. If the doctor asks, “Where does it hurt,” we may point to a part of our own body and say, “Right there.”

Of course, we may equally say, “Right here.”

It all depends. But on what, I’m not sure. Are we identifying less with the pain when we say “there”? Or is it just a vocabulary tick?

I have no idea.

As I said, I’ve come to no conclusion on this, but I have found it to be an interesting thing to think about.

Which probably tells you how interesting the rest of my life has been lately.


I want to thank all of you who dropped in on Tuesday, and the following days, to read Imogen’s, post on the silent film star, Mary Louise Brooks — a woman who truly didn’t give a damn. I felt bad about Imogen wasting such a good article on a blog with such a low readership, but you all came through like troopers.

In fact, very much like troopers — you left muddy footprints all over the place and ate all my salmon squares.

Still, it was a great turnout. Here’s a screen shot of the statistics over the past few weeks.

That’s what I call a real spike.

And it’s all because you came here, rather than there.

So thanks for being here.