Life can feel calamitous. Full to capacity. Constrained. Structured and expectant.
Rarely do we find ourselves with Nothing to do. It’s not an easy fit within our modern lifestyle of constant doing and frequent going.
How often do we allow our precious time to pass without being delegated? We claim our peak experiences, but rarely nourish the valleys in between. The Nothingness cushioning our somethings.
But without these voids in our days, a clearing where Nothing much happens, without the still, or drawn out silence, or a time lacking movement or friction, then our somethings cannot take their most powerful shapes.
The somethings don’t dazzle as they could because they are not given the space of nothing in between to breathe. We choke ourselves out.
Weneedthespaceinbetween for the clarity we seek.
Space in between is a necessary Nothing. Without it, our words collide into each other, fumble without meaning, lose the story, and become a chaotic jumble that overwhelms and exhausts us.
What does this look like?
On a page, Nothing is the space between each word in a story, so we can grasp the plot and follow the characters. It is between each note on a sheet of music so we can lean into the cadence of a song.
It’s in the silence and lull in conversation, where we allow our words to sink a little deeper.
As professionals, Nothing is the drift in-between a career that has ended, and a new one that has yet to begin.
It’s the solitary time after one relationship has careened to an end, and before the shimmer of someone new lifts us back up.
Nothing is not a dark time, although we need space for this too. It’s just a time of Nothing. Of breathing slowly. Of waiting. Thinking. Being. Learning. Growing. Becoming wiser, even.
As a busy and driven (and a bit impatient) person, allowing this space for Nothing is ever a challenge. My time in a hammock with a book and my dog is really the closest to doing Nothing that I ever get.
But lounging in my hammock with my dog is as crucial to inspiring my productivity as is the time I spend focusing on my somethings, such as running my business, or hitting the gym, or hiking with friends.
Nothing rejuvenates us. It moves us from one pivotal point to the next.
I’ve learned this the hard way.
I used to fill every waking hour with a task, a to-do, an activity that served some kind of purpose. I’d keep busy until I burned right up. Every moment of the day presented an opportunity to complete one of my somethings. Until exhaustion and plunging creativity would leave me sprawled on the floor in tired tears.
Doing somethingsomethingsomething didn’t serve me. I needed the space of Nothing.
We all need it.
To daydream. . . . to ponder . . . . . to drift . . . . .to nap . . . . .to be affectionately distracted by pets.
Now I intentionally create time for Nothing to have its moment of glory in my schedule without traces of guilt.
When I have Nothing, new thoughts come to me that otherwise wouldn’t have found their way. I engage in my somethings with more energy and focus. The things I am learning or the choices I am making come with greater clarity and ease once I’ve allowed myself to take a break.
I feel stronger. I’m more confident. I’m kinder.
Forward momentum we want to feel is found in busily achieving all of our somethings, there is no doubt.
But the strength to fuel our momentum builds when we allow ourselves time for Nothing at all.
So…. maybe you have Nothing planned this weekend?
Photo Credit, Greg Rakozy, Unsplashed