What do you do with an empty drawer? If you’re like most people, you fill it with … stuff. There’s something vaguely counterproductive, almost suspicious, about a drawer, shelf or closet that holds nothing. It seems purposeless in its emptiness.
Same for our schedules. A free hour rarely signals us to relax with a book we’ve been eager to read. Instead, it suggests we have too much time on our hands. So we’d better use that time productively by taking tennis lessons, mowing the lawn or, of course, checking email for the zillionth time.
But empty spaces shouldn’t always be filled. Author Rick Hansen makes this point beautifully in this column. A cup’s value, he notes, is “the space, the emptiness, it holds.” And he suggests that we all “be more mindful of the element of space, openness, possibility, reserve capacity, and emptiness in your life.
“This includes room in a drawer, the volume of air in a kitchen, the vacuum in a lightbulb, open mindedness in a friend, or minimal traffic on a highway. Consciously appreciate the beneficial somethings that are the gifts of various nothings.”
What lovely advice for anyone trying to organize or simplify or just get through a crazy-busy day in bustling America. Hanson suggests we try to “explore the practice of NOT adding as a form of subtracting.”
So resist the urge to fill up your closet, your garage, your kids’ after-school hours and your shopping cart. Leave room in your home and schedule for unexpected gifts and surprises. Then when they come to you, you’ll know exactly where to put them.