It is this time of the year when lists are published and when the word of the year is chosen. According to Oxford the 2018 word of the year is “toxic”; Collins selected “single-use” and van Dale, in my native Flemish-Dutch language, picked “moordstrookje”. Don’t even try to Google translate it !

I just finished reading Karl Ove Knausgaard “Inadvertent” – the first of his books I am reading – and when I came across this sentence I realized that “space” is my personal word of the year.

Literature is not primarily a place for truths, it is the space where truths play out.

A place is not a space …

The first time I got the word on my radar this year was at the INSEAD Certified Coach training, which I am following and which I will finish in May 2019. The aim is to become an executive coach. Part of the program is experimenting both as a coach and as a coachee. I don’t know if you have been in either role, but in this context “space” is defined (by me) as the time and place in which you allow any conversation and reflexion to happen. What happens in this space is private and personal and the coachee only takes out of that universum whatever she wants. Being coached myself, I learned to appreciate this space, and it is the reason why it is my personal word of the year.

But there is much more meaning to the word, that is also relevant for me.

Space is also the place where I dock. I am constantly on the move, rarely sleeping more than three nights in the same bed. From my home and office in Geneva I travel to wherever the job brings me. I feel at home in many of these places. Back in the same hotel, a reservation at a restaurant I love or stealing two hours for an exhibition in one of my favorite musea. But I dock in none of these places. Docking is reserved for the house we still own in Brussels, because that is the place where ultimately we root.

Globalism, climate change, “gilets jaunes”, … I also associate them with that same word, space. No need to elaborate on that as they were all over in the news.

Finally the most precious space is that what is going on in my head. I hesitate to call it intellectual space, but I guess this is how you phrase it when it happens in your brain. It is where I jump from a sentence in Knausgaard’s book to a house in Brussels or to the yellow jackets. It is the place where I retreat and where I find quality time.

Space is my word of the year in 2018. Ant is also my intention for 2019 : giving myself more personal space.