Do you ever notice the empty spaces between and within things? The diamond holes in a chainlike fence, the empty space within your room, the emptiness around an interesting person on the street, an emptiness out of which she or he seems to have materialized before your eyes?
Our world is full of objects and things. We normally look from one thing to another and from one person to another, without paying much attention to the emptiness between them. But is that emptiness really empty? And if it is empty, does it mean we don’t need it?
When I go out for a walk every morning, I usually look at whatever catches my eye: the warm touch of sunlight on the greenery, the intricate artwork of the leaves, the weatherbeaten patterns of the fences, or some interesting window or other that makes me wonder what lies on the other side of its curtains.
Lately, however, I began to notice the empty spaces between things, the way a wooden fence made of planks with empty spaces between them can appear to be, after a moment of concentration, made of empty spaces with planks in between them. And then there are the empty spaces between the leaves, boughs, or branches of a tree. And the vast empty space in which everything that nature or the human mind has devised seems to be suspended.
“Physicists tell us that the solidity of matter is an illusion. Even seemingly solid matter, including your physical body, is nearly 100 percent empty space – so vast are the distances between the atoms compared to their size.
What is more, even inside every atom there is mostly empty space.
What is left is more like a vibrational frequency than particles of solid matter, more like a musical note.”
– Eckhart Tolle
Forget about beauty for a moment. Forget about “interesting”. Forget even about nature. Look at the empty spaces between things in your home, on the street, and anywhere else you venture. Look at all those empty spaces in your life. Pay attention to them.
Your mind will clear and become empty like the spaces themselves. Even if it’s just for a few seconds, it’s a healthy respite from our natural habit of filling our head with thoughts. We need the emptiness between things as much as we need the things themselves.
If you look around you, what’s the “first” emptiness you see?