‘Negative Space’ is a Positive Thing*

*Meaning, things can be useful by not being there.

‘Thirty spokes meet in the hub.
Where the wheel isn’t is where it’s useful.

Hollowed out, clay makes a pot.
Where the pot’s not is where it’s useful.

Cut doors and windows to make a room.
Where the room isn’t, there’s room for you.

So the profit in what is, is in the use of what isn’t.’
(Tao Te Ching: Chapter 11, translation by Ursula K. Le Guin)

The concepts of this poem/teaching came back to me this week as I reviewed some of the things that have made life more simple within the past two weeks or so.

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Not being on Facebook (except to check on photography course discussion) has made space to think and undertake other things, releasing the obligation to ‘interact’.

The heavy winter clothing (only a few degrees different it seems!) not in my closet create space for me to see my full range of ‘summer’ clothes…and fully appreciate what I do and do not wear…creating more space as I donate the unused.

The darkness, cold and closed doors, removed for now, encourage neighbours to linger and connect. I toured a neighbour’s back garden this week and we have begun an evolving conversation of mutual plant-respect.

Sidestepping my photography comfort zone to find that narrower apertures and slower shutter speeds do not always work against my ‘vision’, I have found more light in what I thought were dark spaces.

Striking down DOMA means I will now be a true citizen in my home country, with the right to apply for a green card for my spouse. We now have the overwhelming option of considering where to live; a choice for our future (I admit to violating my minimal Facebook this evening as I needed to celebrate and process.)!

And sometimes, even if you whole heartedly want something to be there and it isn’t, its absence reminds you that there is potential within.

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