‘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.

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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