Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time meditating on (and attempting) making space. There has been a popular thought floating around the internet for a year or so on the importance of boredom in stimulating intelligent and creative thought, hence the urging of various lifestyle blogs to put your phone the fuck down and get off Facebook to give your brain some time to process and breathe and come up with new things. I absolutely think this is true. But I also think that this concept goes beyond creative thinking.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to deal with the unhappiness I felt in my work and personal life by making myself as busy as possible. When I was busy at work, time went by faster. When I was busy outside of work, I didn’t have time to fight or brood or drink myself to sleep. And the more I felt like my life was slipping out of my control, the more I felt compelled to fill it up with things:
I filled my (ever-shrinking amount of) time with dance classes, side gigs, and going out to brunches, coffees and dinners.
I filled my empty, uncomfortable house with stacks of books, unworn jewellery and clothes, and kitchen accessories.
I filled my (ever-emptying) life with anyone who would be willing to spend time with me, even if deep down I knew that I never would be, or would want to be, friends with them.
I filled my (constantly buzzing) brain with podcasts, music, and industry news.
It’s a compulsive reflex that many of us have – this desire to fill empty spaces. When we go on vacation, our brain comes up with new stresses, worries and panics to replace the ones that were normally created by work. When we remove a person from our lives, we almost without thinking try to fill the gap with someone, anyone else. When we wake up on Sunday morning with nothing planned, our fingers unwittingly type ‘facebook.com’ in our browser windows, the other hand snapping open the Instagram feed.
But once I stopped filling up my time with random events, the skills I really cared about developing suddenly flourished. Once I stopped grasping desperately for social contact, I was able to connect on a more in-depth level with those who mattered. And once I stopped creating stress for myself at a job I was done with, a new opportunity came along.
In the past week that I’ve been temporarily unemployed and not on a seaside vacation, I’ve been trying (and struggling) to make space. To just give myself some breathing room. Whether that’s sitting at home and doing nothing but reading a book, or choosing to miss a dance party just because, or just biking to my desired destination without putting headphones in my ears.
Just giving myself room for processing, reflection, and dreaming. Giving myself room to breathe, to think, to be happy, to be frustrated, to be alone. To simply not be occupied by something every second of every day.
And although it is a struggle, I can feel the difference. And as much as it sounds like some zen/feng-shui bullshit, I believe it’s true that only once we make space can something better come and fill it.
So here’s to space, breathing room, and zen bullshit. Namaste.