I've been thinking about the spaces in between things.
I pay so much more attention to what someone is not saying when I talk with them.
I'm drawn to negative spaces instinctively, like an animal.
It's in the emptiness that I find new fullness.
I like wandering down an empty street.
I crave silence.
My husband read something to me recently about Bob Dylan and his efforts at sculpture. Dylan was quoted as saying how he's fascinated with gates these days. He is interested in the negative space a gate holds between itself, how you can be closed in or out of a gate. Both sides, in or out, he said, end up being the same, and you see how there is no side to it at all. It's all space.
I see these negative spaces as gates in my days that I can walk through. As a creative person, I can burn full blast for a while, but then I require downtime. I need spaces in between the burning. This means that I don't schedule a big event, travel or a lot of meetings after a period of manifesting. I give myself a day or two to let the spaces in between find me. It also means that I give myself time on the front end of a project to rest, before I launch into production or performance, so I have reserves of bright thinking and breath on my side.
And by spaces in between I really mean space. That voluminous, empty thing that we try to fill with objects or desires. I don't mean taking a break to go shopping with a friend. I don't mean watching a movie after a long days work. I don't think of these spaces in between as additional things to digest, consume, take in. I think of them as clearing the calendar, cleaning the room, giving away what no longer serves me, letting the paper stay blank, not starting another knitting project, waiting for something to fill while I walk down the empty street.
I hear people talk about how they don't have the space or the time for this or that. And I think, Why yes, you don't. Do you really want it? Are you willing to say No, thank you so you can get it? Are you willing to stand in the negative space and let your senses surrender to the silence it offers? Are you willing to have less money for more time and space? What freedoms would you find there?
Fullness will find you. But we all know a full cup can't stay full with too much positive space pouring in. The full cup becomes a mess. And not just the cup. The surface it rests on, its supports, suffer from the spill, too.
I have found as an artist that the spaces in between are often what save me and keep my motor well-oiled. The time that I don't pencil in on my calendar becomes a gift. Walks through the forest remind me that nature requires so much negative space to grow and thrive, bend and flex. Resisting the temptation the create just one more thing actually gives me the pause I need to consider what it is I really do want to make.
It has taken me years to learn this about myself. I'm grateful I've had the years to learn it. And I'm grateful I have the time ahead of me to unlearn it again and again so I might keep practicing it. For knowing negative space is not knowing it. It's just filling it up with your knowledge of what you think it is or should be.
Let me be the tall grass blowing, I say, so I might understand the wind. Let me be the little rivets in the pine cone so I might understand the way the cone grows. Let me be the empty street so I can hear the stories of everyone who takes a walk down me.
As I age, I'm finding that the most movement, the most growth, the most fertile place for my imagination lies in the stillness, the silence, the spaces in between.
Gates await you.