Three Square Feet

The average human body takes up 3 square feet of human real estate on this planet. In the year 1950, the average 3-square-foot American consumed 292 square feet of house. By 2008, the same American increased his consumed space to 900 square feet. He takes up 300 times his size.

In crowded Hong Kong in the early 1900s, government policy mandated that each person have at least 35 square feet per person. I have 295; and even though that’s only a third of the U.S. average, it’s over 8 times the minimum required by the Hong Kong mandate.

Americans, Canadians and Australians report the most square feet per person. Japanese report the least.

How many square feet do we need? I know I crave more. I could get high on the thought of open vistas from one room to the next, like living in the land of the big sky only I’d be in my own home. I need quiet like an addict. Time alone like air. Space to organize my people and my stuff. And more square feet could help. Right?

Problem is it’s not just square feet that we’re consuming at record numbers in the U.S. We seem to like big things. We like big budgets, big screens and big meals. We’re big people, height and waists eclipsing our neighbors around the globe. And I can’t help but link the craving for more square feet to the consumption I live amidst. If I think long enough about the numbers, I get a little sick to my stomach.

Then I wonder how to downsize life, to swim upstream this raging river. Keep the river at bay. Keep it from consuming me.

So how much is enough? How much more than my three square feet is healthy? Would 900 do? 295? Does God care about how many square feet I log? I don’t really know the answer to that. I just woke up wondering.