A friend of mine wrote a lovely post about emptiness, right at the onset of social distancing across much of the US and beyond. His post was broad-ranging and focused on other things, like the ongoing refugee crisis and what this pandemic can mean for those in camps. But one little bit really stood out to me.
In describing how many people are taking this opportunity to unplug themselves a bit from life in some ways, only to fill up watching Netflix or whatever. Which, he says, isn’t exactly a bad thing in and of itself, “unless it fills space better left empty.”
The past several months, I’ve had more than my share of empty time on my hands, what with working very part-time and not doing much else at all. So really, things haven’t changed much for me this past week because my behavior is already well-adapted to the times (yes, all those memes about introverts and social distancing are me). And I’ve often wished, at times quite ardently, that I had a little bit more to fill up on. More things to do, or more accurately, probably, more motivation to do even little things.
So now I’m sitting here thinking about what space is space better left empty. What are the spaces in my life where I could benefit from, not additional activity, but additional reflection. Spaces that I could ponder without filling. Spaces whose size and shape could teach me something. I’m not really sure where those places may be, and I’m pretty confident that I won’t know what do to with them if I find them. But I think the search is worthwhile even so. Just to know myself a little better–not just the things in my life but the bits that don’t get seen much, by me or by anyone.
And apparently, that’s all the space for introspection I have right now. Something is better than nothing, though. It’s worth coming back to, and I’m sure most of us have plenty of time right about now.
I have been baking some, which is always a good thing for me. Made some lovely brownies with a tangy cream cheese swirly bit on top, great combo. And some chocolate chip cookies because chocolate chip cookies are always a good option. Been hiking a bit as well, getting some Washington nature in as the season begins to change (hard to believe that we’re already almost to the solstice–it’s technically tonight!).
Wild to think that it’s essentially spring already. With everything going on, I’m not sure how much notice it will get. I did mostly forget that it was St Patrick’s Day just because it wasn’t really on my mind and I didn’t get out of the house. I have had some lovely walks, though, which have bee beneficial because I like walking and the weather is starting to turn and I went down to Glen Cove which is my favorite specific body of water, if I haven’t mentioned that lately.
Anyway. Taking a sec to go back to emptiness. I hope that you are given the peace and the space (metaphorical but also, six literal feet) to consider the places that the current crisis has emptied for you–or empty places that it has revealed to you.
I hope that you are able to consider those emptinesses in light of the things that have proven to be necessities. Toilet paper, apparently, but also connection, love, art, purpose.
I hope that lessons seen here and now are lessons that we remember. Watching the sick be treated without regard for payment. Watching the elderly be given attention that often they miss. Watching the air and water take a collective sigh of relief over our lessened emissions. Watching friend and neighbor working hard because they cannot afford not to. And a whole lot more.
And if you have no big social take-aways but you have learned something valuable about yourself or a loved one, then remember that, too. If you haven’t really been directly effected but you’ve taken note of those who are in need, from your own neighborhood to refugee camps around the world, remember that, too.
I think this would be a deeply terribly waste if we came away from this–and we will come away, sooner or later–having learned nothing and forgotten everything.