Untranslatable Words – Простор


There is something special about vast open spaces. Often we get stuck in urban environments for prolonged periods of time which can make us feel trapped to the point of stagnation or suffocation. Sometimes the best thing to do is to find a field, run across it, and realise that there really is no need to remain stuck in your head, and that there is so much to explore outside. It’s just that sometimes you need a certain mindset to be able to discover new things.

The Russian word простор (prostor) means spaciousness, freedom, and the absence of constraint.

It can be used to describe wild, limitless expanses found in natural landscapes like fields with rolling hills, or immeasurable steppes, or the immensity of the ocean when you are on a boat with no land in sight. Prostor can also mean the freedom to roam such places, and to have a mindset which enables you to think and feel freely rather than be controlled by your thoughts, emotions, and the past. Prostor in the mind also enables you to keep your cool in stressful situations.


I also feel that adults are sometimes afraid to feel such prostor because they feel it could be out of their control. Animals and children, however, have less trouble in letting go and surrendering themselves to the freedom of the unknown. Dogs don’t tend to worry about how huge a field might really be and how to get home afterwards. Rather, they take in the spaciousness and happily plunge right into it. Taking walks with dogs reminds me of the attitude to take when suddenly confronted with prostor.

Even though you may feel confined, you also have the power to free yourself. Wild flowers cannot grow to their full potential in neatly trimmed gardens. To rediscover the prostor you miss you just need to embrace and accept its ambiguity and mysterious potential.

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