Sunday, 24 June 2007

The Spaces In Between


It seems like life is often like that sentence: things and events crowded too close together without any gaps for reflection, or real enjoyment or appreciation.

I like how the Tao Te Ching talks about how 'empty' spaces are important:
Thirty spokes join in one hub
In its emptiness, there is the function of a vehicle
Mix clay to create a container
In its emptiness, there is the function of a container
Cut open doors and windows to create a room
in its emptiness, there is the function of a room

Therefore, that which exists is used to create benefit
That which is empty is used to create functionality

TTC Chapter 11, as translated by Derek Lin

A wheel wouldn't be any good if there was no space in the middle for the axle to fit into. And a cup that isn't hollow doesn't let you enjoy a nice cup of tea. And, except maybe in a Sims game, a room that you can't get into doesn't serve any purpose. Words have to have spaces in between them to facilitate their understanding. Life needs to have some of these gaps in it too, so we have the time to feel some contentment and peace, and so we can be properly functional as stewards of the earth.

This week has been a nice space in between for me. I have been off of work and have been able to enjoy being out in the yard, spending time with family, reading, catching up on some sleep, puttering around the house and doing all of that at a nice, leisurely pace. I've been able to enjoy the things I've been doing, even things like washing dishes, or weeding or cleaning out the guinea pigs' cage. I can stop and look out at the birds or the garden whenever I want to.

As Derek Lin says in his annotations to Chapter 11, "We simply can't do without emptiness."


Anonymous said...

Oh the timeliness of todays blog topic has to be more than coincidence for me! I am definitely at the point of needing some more "spaces" in my life. Thank you for reminding me why this is so important! I think I will go sit in my yard now and observe for a while....

Theresa said...

I'm glad you found it helpful, Anon! The hardest part is trying to carve out these 'spaces' in every day life, not just during a week off of work!