Saturday, January 1, 2011

White Space

“Turn the wheel of your life. Make complete revolutions. Celebrate every turning. And persevere with joy.” Deng Ming-Tao, 365 Tao

On Thursday I was driving behind a blue dump truck that was carrying a mountain of snow. My first thought was, “Where the heck is it going?” And my next thought was, “Take me with you!”

I imagined that the truck was headed for a dump where the small mountain of snow would be piled atop a much larger one. Behind that large mountain would be another, and another, and another. Piles of snow stretching all the way to the horizon. An oasis of white space.

This truck carting snow from one place to another symbolizes how challenging and messy the cleanup from Sunday’s blizzard has been. It’s also a great metaphor for what my life has been like this past year. I’ve moved a bunch of stuff from one place to another, but never really completed anything—except making larger piles. That may be why the notion of an endless expanse of white space is so appealing to me. It’s about clearing the decks of the mountains of unfinished tasks. And being left with the space to imagine, to hope, to create new things.

During the past week or two, I’ve been participating in an online writing project called reverb10. Each day, an email hits my Inbox containing a prompt designed to help me reflect on the past year—and think about how I’d like things to manifest in 2011. In the process, I stumbled across an old blog post by someone named Tara Mohr. It was entitled “White Space.”

I don’t know Tara, but after reading her post I feel like we’re kindred spirits. Rather than paraphrase, I’ve included the link so you can read it yourself. What I love is the way she has drawn the connection between canceling things in her calendar to creating space to do more with her time. She can do what she wants with that space, like filling it with things she’d actually like to do instead of obligations. Or she can take on the greater challenge of simply sinking into that open space, connecting with herself, and allowing whatever comes of the experience to guide her actions.

In a world where life seems to be accelerating at a pace so relentless that I, for one, am struggling to keep up—white space feels like a luxury. And yet, the more I’ve reflected on this past year—a year when I lost count of how many times someone said, “I can’t believe how fast time is passing”—it’s the image of that vast and empty field of snow that keeps coming to mind.

The last time I really felt the power of connecting with myself was in May, in Vermont, at that detox retreat. The whole point of that weekend was to give ourselves the freedom to go deep down and hear what our inner voices had to say. Mine spoke loud and clear—and it said, “Make space for self-expression."

So far I’ve only cleared a tiny space in a dark corner. This morning, in the pause between when one cycle ends and a new one begins, I vow to pick up my shovel every day and carve out my own field of white.


  1. Good luck with your New Year's vow! My resolution was to go back to Weight Watchers - - until I weighed myself this AM and saw that I have lost wight while overeating since Thanksgiving. So I am re-thinking resolutions. I am starting to be sad that the holidays are over. I love the traditions too. How was your party?

  2. Donna -
    What a lovely reflection. It sounds like you are getting some persistent and messages from within about creating white space. I'm quite sure all kinds of important things will emerge as you live in that space. Glad my post spoke to you.

  3. This is a meditation as well as a good reminder to make space for self-expression and creativity~somehow I leave these things until last, and then am too tired to do it.