When a counter is clear, it’s not long before it is covered again. A stray paper here, a paper clip there, a toy needing batteries, a toy that got picked up off the floor. And wa-la, a pile has grown. Usually this is what happens in our house. Yet the unusual has been happening. The counters I cleared, one more than another, have stayed cleared. Hmmm.
One–I am on a mission to conquer spaces. This too has happened before. But somehow something has shifted; something is different. The idea is to keep a space clear once it has been cleared. Since there are plenty of other landing places that have yet to be tackled, or cleared, anything that lands gets moved to that spot, or if the offender has a home, gets moved to that home.
Two–I generally don’t like clear spaces. After all, they hold so much opportunity. Look at that clean space! The perfect landing spot! But somehow something has shifted; something is different.
It used to be that clear spaces gave me anxiety. The why I’m sure is a longer story and an awful tangent and one I’m not addressing at this moment. But the point is important. I didn’t like an open space. It didn’t seem comfortable. The counter is supposed to be cluttered. It wants paper and clips and books and lost toy parts. It seems so right. An open space is an invitation to things, as if the things themselves are warmth. The counter is cold on its own.
And this is true. I like stuff. But in recent weeks, I still like stuff, but I’m also liking open space.
The other night, I zoned in on clearing out newspapers that were on the children’s art/work table (that’s how it started and then I cleared that table too), on the coffee table, under the coffee table, in a corner of the kitchen, in a side table. The next day (Mother’s Day!) I continued the project after dinner. There’s more to this story and how it evolved, but the point is I have a clear work table for the children, the coffee table is (with my son’s help!) mostly clear, underneath the coffee table is clear and the side table is clear (except for this week’s paper). And when I look at the coffee table and see the clear space underneath, I am amazed. Amazed that it got done, that I did it; amazed that I like it.
I’m seeing open space and I’m working toward more. I have a long way to go and many things to organize, move, store, donate, make decisions on. It sounds easy, but it hasn’t been. And the appreciation I have of the clear spaces is a surprise. I’ve always liked the idea, but living it is another idea.
A third thing: I’m writing. Hmm, again. It has been a long time since I’ve written consistently. I have heard established writers say that writing is like breathing. Again today, I read an essay by a writer who said that if something is not written down, it does not exist. I am reading finally The History of Love by Nicole Krauss whose main character wants to make sure people know he is exists. He is a writer.
So I am wondering these days. I am wondering at the connection between my apparent new abilities to both stay focused on my mission to clear clutter and to appreciate and not be made anxious by “white space”.
I also read again tonight (in Oprah’s interview with Deepak Chopra in the latest O magazine) Deepak Chopra saying the soul exists in the space between thoughts. (Being still and being conscious and present are on the current month’s subjects for the magazine.) So I am wondering. I will never forget (perhaps because I wrote it down) an experience I had long ago and more than once where, for example, the laundry seemed like so much work. But if I would journal, then wa-la, the laundry was just a task and a tedious thing to do but not so burdensome, not so onerous. I keep this in mind because I know that when I write, more seems possible. Things that are normally burdensome seem less so. I’m wondering if I haven’t been breathing.
Perhaps the white space, instead of an invitation to a pile, has become an invitation to the space between thoughts. Perhaps it is an invitation to be still and conscious and present. Perhaps it is more simply an invitation to do more of what matters and not be burdened but that which does not. Perhaps simply because I am writing, I am less anxious and less in need of the warmth that comes from the clutter because in losing that, I have gained the warmth of breath.