the space between

Space matters.

In my previous post, I talked about spaces at the end of sentences – about how the ‘double space’ is no longer necessary.

I still want to talk about space, but in a different way; in this sense I am coming to the opposite conclusion. Because in my life I often feel space-deprived. I don’t mean that I am never alone; in fact, thinking on it, I am quite often alone in that I work from home – but that doesn’t mean I am not subjected to an ocean’s worth of voices, my own included.

We rush to fill space. This might be the attitude of ‘making the most of time’, and cramming in as many extraneous chores as necessary – the tyranny of the to do list. If the ‘space’ is supposedly meant for rest or play we often plug it with entertainment. Why not? The trouble is, in a fast paced world, entertainment is often instant, immediate and does not always engage us in a creative way. It is easy to take the …well…easiest option – the one that requires the least effort. We fill the space to distract ourselves from our lives; our thoughts; the things that bother us which we hide. But we are not always rested or rejuvenated by such things.

Many times over the past couple of years I have come back to thinking about the value of boredom – that sense of ‘being at a loose end’. We’re not used to it; it chafes at us – because there are so many options for alleviation.

Again, the easiest way out of boredom is often the one most taken.

A few days ago I found myself in a self-allocated ‘day-of-rest’ – and I consciously allowed myself to embrace the space. It needed to be conscious, otherwise I would have frittered it away by doing or watching or some pursuit that required little of me at all. I lay on the lawn and watched the clouds for a while. After some minutes of this I found myself praying – a kind of reflective conversation where I talked through some of the issues I had identified within myself, issues which were hampering me, rather than helping me live well. Things that tied me up.

But I needed the space between – the moment of pause before the prayer – and indeed the space after it. It was one of those rare moments when I gave myself permission to be nothing or anything or whatever – usually I have to discipline myself not to be flying off in all directions – whether this is physical activity or, more commonly, mental and emotional.

Do we allow for the ‘double space’ at the end of the sentences in the paragraphs that make up our days? Where I may need to eliminate the literal double space in a computer document, I often need to add space between the activities of my life.

I already do this, but usually because I have to – my weariness sneaks up and demands it. But I tend only to do it when I feel justified.

But the fact of the matter is that, as a writer, I get ‘written out’. And the spaces between are the places where my creativity gets refuelled. But if I try and ‘impose’ them for that reason, there is still too much of an agenda. My mind needs to be allowed to wander without expectation; I need to be in some way ‘idle’ in a positive way; even if there is an element of boredom. Eventually the creative spirit intervenes to shunt the boredom away; but I need to allow it space to do so.

So often I just fill the space with anything going.

And lose the very thing I wish I could gain.

By Lucy Hannah

Lucy is a mixed media artist with a particular interest in acrylics and feltmaking. She is also an experienced writer and editor.

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