I just read a very thought-provoking mini-article on the lack of blank spaces in our lives. My first inclination was to write that this blog is providing a blank space for me – somewhere I can turn to fill the space however I want. But, my second thought was that I am the one occupying some of that very precious real estate that would otherwise be blank space. While both are true, I think the first inclination is more appropriate since the internet is not a finite commodity, unlike our visual field or the actual, physical spaces we pass through each day.
The past few years I have alternated living in big cities (Copenhagen, New York, Washington) and in small towns (Rapid City, Lewiston, Boulder, Chapel Hill). Both settings are stimulating for different reasons. But, I find when I am in a city, I yearn for the blank spaces that smaller cities maintain. These blank spaces may not be completely void (and it is problematic if we view anything but city-scapes as “blank”), but they serve as blank spaces in an otherwise/elsewhere saturated world. These blank spaces are parks, open space, back yards, gardens. Yes, cities have these features, too, they are simply more often occupied by many more people. While the common experience with other city dwellers of all enjoying the first sunny day at Central Park, or being on the National Mall together with people from around the country and world can be invigorating, I must admit I need blank visual space in the place I live. When I have lived in big cities, it has always been for a finite chunk of time – never my permanent address. The smaller town has always been where I keep my residence. I think that says something about where my heart resides.
These blank spaces in life allow us to create and play in important ways. The wide open spaces of nature invite us to play with movement and mobility. Blank pages or canvases tempt us to create stories or pictures that satisfy our imaginations.
As you can tell, this idea of blank spaces really has gotten me thinking. I’m eager for tonight’s run when I can turn away from the computer screen and notebook, and allow my mind to wander in its own blank space.