I recently made a list. A list full of “pointless” activities. Stare at the mountains for a couple hours. Breathe really deeply. Just have a long random chat. Then, I realised I don’t actually know how to create that without fretting about time “lost”. My life is full of activity. Business activity, recreational activity, well balanced – but pretty much brimming with doing. Which I love, but I noticed it comes at the cost of spaciousness.
Generally, as a society, we don’t really value space. We got so good at cramming in everything all the time. Even our recreational time. How often do we pause and admire the beauty of the flowers next to us, really? Literally and figuratively.
We live life at high speed. Striving for the next thing, the next box to check off. The better we are able to achieve, the more we throw ourselves into the experience. And if it’s for you like it’s for me it’s super sneaky: We DO feel we’re creating a balance, while really, we aren’t. We more like create ourselves as the perfect machines, because we noticed the machine works better with some well measured
oil downtime. But actually, we stick to the very same paradigm. The paradigm of optimisation, perfecting our output.
We avoid creating clarity of “what is”. Not that we are aware of it – we are so buried in our world of “should” that we don’t even know how to look at the simple facts anymore. We probably think we do, but no – we rarely really create space. Seemingly pointless space. White space. More space than we feel makes sense. Definitely more than we feel comfortable with. Space to live, breathe, be and free of any kind of “should”.
Consider lots of stuff we do to recover doesn’t really count. Classical examples would be dawdling on the phone or computer. Watching movies or reading novels. Going on a run. They’re (obviously) not bad activities. In this context hoewever, they all too often mean we’re not really off. The space isn’t truly white. Rather, we try to calm ourselves down, divert our thoughts, bring another energy in – but we kinda still are on. We’re not fully on or fully off, we’re in between. (Speaking of which, check out Bay LeBlanc Quiney’s brilliant article about this!)
Consider the art of creating real space lies in the discomfort of consciously wasting time with something that seems pointless – and consider that you may have to learn it anew, bit by bit. And consider it’s ultimately not so much about how much time goes into the white space at all. It’s more kind of a way of living. Infuriating isn’t it? It really is a piece of art.