Empty Spaces Created By the Coronavirus

Meditations in Motion

When I was in high school, in the early Mesozoic Era, I was on the field hockey team.

Our team was adequate, not great, and that is how I would describe my personal field hockey talents too – adequate, not great.

Our team was in it for the camaraderie. We loved singing songs on the bus, we loved hanging out together after games, we loved sneaking forbidden hamburgers and milkshakes (our coach laid down strict dietary rules), and we loved the sweaty, tired, we’re-all-in-it-together feeling of our twice-daily summer practices.

I can remember one moment of enlightenment, early in my second year on the team, when the coach gave me what was some of the best advice I have ever received: “visualize the negative spaces.

What she meant was to not stand at the spot where I wanted another player to pass the ball, but rather to move away from that spot, to create an empty space to pass the ball into, then to move into that unoccupied space to get the ball.

It changed my whole view of the game and made me a better player. It also, as it turns out, changed my view of life and the universe.

Meditations in Motion

There are many empty spaces these days – empty stadiums, empty movie theaters, empty restaurants, and golf courses, and playgrounds. Empty space is easy to visualize. It’s all around us.

Before the COVID-19 epidemic, our lives were full, so full.

We filled up our days with work and leisure, with appointments and playdates, with fitness activities, important meetings, piano lessons, restaurant meals, and errands.

We filled up our lives with things too, with tennis rackets, bikes, daily planners, tools, take-out coffee, computers, and smartphones.

Now we have empty space where many of those things recently existed.

We seem to be filling those empty spaces with family time, with quiet conversation, reading, dinners around the dining room table, board games, and evenings of contemplation (and Netflix).

Meditations in MotionWe now have time to step outside and marvel at the luminous Rose Moon (the name of the full moon in April). We can meditate, if we are so inclined. We have space for lighting candles, for playing gin rummy, for listening to an eight-year-old tell a corny joke, for learning to identify wildflowers, and for hearing the birds sing in the garden

That’s the way it is with empty spaces. Something will always rush in to fill them. Ever since the universe burst into being and filled empty space, the only thing that existed before Creation (or you might call it the Big Bang, tomato, tomahto).

We need to create some empty spaces of our own, voluntarily.

The Coronavirus created empty spaces for us but we don’t need a pandemic to create negative space in our lives, we can do it ourselves, even after the sheltering-in-place is over.

Let’s not forget the slower pace we were forced to adopt for this short period of time. Let’s not rush back to our former busy lives without considering the benefits of spending more time with the people we love most. Let’s keep some of those empty spaces the crisis caused us to create.

And one more thing. Let’s create some negative space within ourselves to allow the Light to enter.

Let’s not fill up ourselves with our “self“. That self can lead to selfishness, self-importance, and self-righteousness. Some hollow spaces inside can be a good thing.

We should pay attention to the sage advice given by my former field hockey coach so many years ago. Her wisdom has stayed with me for a long time.

Visualize the negative spaces.

 

 

 

97 comments

  1. I’m actually enjoying the “space” even though on the surface my life isn’t a whole lot different. I’m struggling with certain aspects – such as my need to fill empty spaces in the future with travel plans, but I’m finding ways of reconciling that too. I hope that we don’t forget what we’ve found is really important.

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  2. Staying home for work has been made look for interesting places to run or work. Iโ€™ve discovered new places.

    This would not have happened in other times. Iโ€™d be running with friends in the same places we always run in. Iโ€™d been working thorough lunch instead of getting outdoors for a walk

    I hope I can keep up this mojo once we are back to normal.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Before the pandemic, I’ve always left spaces in my day and calendar because I prefer flexibility and free time. I’m in no rush to fill up my calendar after this pandemic is under control. #lifethisweek

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  4. My husband and I have been comfortable with the spaces (I hesitate calling the space “negative” or “empty”) in our days since we retired. I get uncomfortable when my calendar gets too full (and, by “full” I mean more than one appointment or event per week). Now that my whole calendar is full of space, I’m breathing a sigh of relief. A few Zoom calls, connections (video, phone, or text) with friends here and there, walks in the neighborhood, some expected package deliveries… and I’m good.

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  5. That was lovely Laurie – and so true. This down time has certainly created a lot of peace and a sense of co-operation in our world (something we haven’t seen for a long time). I must admit to missing the human interaction – video chatting is a blessing, but real contact is the one major missing element for me. I’ll be watching with interest to see if we manage to sustain some long term positivity from this time of contemplation.

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    • Yes, some of the empty spaces do look eerie. It’s strange for us to go past a golf course near our house on a beautiful sunny day with no golfers out on the course.

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  6. I feel the same way – my life did not change all that much since I work from home and have no one coming to visit the house, but it is the days that seem to run together and the reminders of what you cannot do and the fear down the line once we unmask and go forth as before.

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  7. I love how youโ€™ve turned the negative into a positive! Totally agree about not missing the busy-ness of life. This โ€œgiftโ€ from the coronavirus can be so easy to overlook. Great post!

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  8. Very good advice. I like the analogy. There is a danger that we will slip into an overdrive mode after the lockdown to compensate for all the “quiet” weeks.
    I will make a conscious effort to leave some negative space in my life. This calm pace is soothing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I worry about that for myself. My calendar is usually pretty full but now it’s wide open and I kind of like it! I hope I can remember this calm, peaceful feeling when the crisis is over.

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  9. My very sports-challenged self had to read the coach’s description of negative space theory twice just to get it, but what a great strategy for life. I’m seeing the dangerous effects of this isolation–dumb things volunteering to take up my time. I think we can emerge from isolation improved on so many levels if we make good promises to ourselves and trust God to help us keep them.

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    • I think you are exactly right, Michele. My usually full calendar is suddenly wide-open. I have to guard against frittering my time away just to be “busy”. I am enjoying the slower pace of life these days. I hope to remember how this feels when the crisis is over.

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  10. Great image: something I’ve impressed on my football-loving son: the importance of space โ€” finding it, in order to receive the pass, or make that killer pass, and closing it down when the opposition have the ball. I think it’s what separates very good players from average ones, this appreciation of space. #SeniSal

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  11. So much wisdom here, I am going to share it. While I do not want this to go on forever, and pretty sure it won’t, one of my fears as that I will not have learned my lessons well enough before going back to my usual busyness. I want to be able to live into these lessons and allow the experience to help me make some needed changes. Thank you for sharing.

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  12. That sounds like sage advice although I’m not seeing many empty spaces around me except maybe downtown. There seem to be a lot more people in the spaces I like to fill which is predominantly outside and boy would I ever like to see some negative space there. Some field hockey players were in the room next to us when we were dealing with overcrowded dorms in the 70s and they seemed very healthy and happy. Does that make me in school during the Paleozoic Era?

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    • Yes, you are right. When we go to the woods or to the rail trail, there are MORE people there than usual. Haha! No, I was in the school in the 70s too. Same era as me! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  13. My introduction to the concept, and importance of negative space came in college design classes. I didn’t have the talent or background of my classmates, but tried to learn and adopt the principles. I still appreciate negative space in the visual arts. But I must say the times of refreshing, the wide spot in the river, the escape from the busyness is something I need. My wife and have noticed how quiet our neighborhood can be. We have also become more acquainted with neighbors we see on our evening walks with our dog. Thanks for reminding me of the value of the negative spaces.

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    • Yes, I remember being taught about negative space in art classes too. I am enjoying the respite from my typical busyness too. I want to be sure to remember that when the crisis is over.

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  14. I seem to have less time, with everyone home. But for a long time I have built margins into my schedule–I think something similar to what you’re saying. There was a time when I could just go, go, go, but I just can’t anymore–mentally or physically. I especially love your last couple of paragraphs about self. My biggest problem with self is that it can’t be conquered once for all for ever–it has to be a daily laying down of self. But, as you said, we need to do that for the Light to shine in.

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  15. There is so much to learn from this time and for all the death and illness, something in my gut tells me many good things will come as legacies of this time. Methinks we were prone to live at too frenetic a pace and many of us will reflect on this and change our ways whilst we consider those empty spaces #GlobalBlogging

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  16. Today my son and I enjoyed a meal together on the balcony while admiring the sunset – something we hadn’t done for a long time as he was always busy with work or his girlfriend! And my other son colored my hair since I can’t go to the hairdresser’s. I truly am enjoying this time together as a complete family.

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  17. Laurie, I love the picture of negative space, or empty spaces in our schedules and within ourselves. I was really busy before COVID hit. Of course, most of my busy-ness was from my boys’ schedules, so it’s been kind of nice not running them everywhere. we are still busy, and I’m working on that part of building in more empty space into my day and into my heart. This season has been really good for me in terms of having daily quiet times and working out. I’m pretty good about having quiet times, but the working out part is new for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m with you, hoping we as a society maintain more empty spaces in our days and life patterns. Great post!

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  18. Several years ago I was made to read a book about fundraising for charities. It is one of the dullest books I have ever read, but one quote has always stuck with me. It was from the chapter about writing newsletters and it said “White space is your friend.” I think that’s true, though we often don’t see it that way. Our tendency can be to cram our newsletter, or our life, as full as possible. I think we do need to use this opportunity to evaluate our time when things return to normal and allow those bits of space because we do need them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never thought about that, but it makes sense. One of the things I had to learn when I first began blogging was to not make my paragraphs so long and dense. Some empty space is a good thing!

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  19. Something will always fill the empty space. I hope mine are filling with those things that are profitable and wise..and that will either last or make an impact long after quarantine is over!

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  20. A perfect way to describe it, Laurie. Because I live in the slow lane in general–and am used to everyone and everything whizzing past me at breakneck speed–your post is one of my greatest wishes. Keep sending the message! Who knows–maybe we’ll be in this long enough for new habits to actually take hold. I think our relationships and our environment would appreciate that. xo

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    • I hope so, Carolyn. I read somewhere that it takes about a month for a new habit to take hold. We have been in the slow lane for about that amount of time. We may enjoy the slow lane so much it may get crowded!

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  21. Such wisdom. We are work so hard to fill every moment, to be busy and productive. I think this is an opportunity to reset. To slow down. And to make room for a little negative space. The days I start with my quiet time, are the ones that are my best. I am trying to remember to take time to listen to the silence that is normally filled with hustle and bustle. Kind of enjoying this forced slow down.

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  22. Great way to express the current non-contact in a meaningful way. I am getting used to the rules of being in the shops (only for food) but it still surprised me today when people were browsing..NO, it is not a time for this. However, you are reminding me of art and negative space and I have an idea that is something I can do something about.

    Thank you for linking up for Life This Week. Next week, the optional prompt is 16/51 I Heard 20.4.2020 …hope to see you there too. Denyse.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Laurie, wonโ€™t it be interesting to see if there are any positive lasting effects from this mandatory slowdown across our society? Iโ€™m guessing that there will be some people who are determined to grow from it, but plenty of others who will attempt go on like nothing ever happened. Iโ€™m a homebody anyway, but I do miss full parking lots and school activities. White space is good, though, and I appreciate your take on your coach’s wisdom. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  24. I do kind of look at it as a miracle…even though I don’t like the scary facts. However, I like what you say. We can stand back and look at the empty spaces of all the world’s activites, and reflect on what might be more important. I know, I have. Sometimes the saying ‘Less Is More’ is actually true. Liked reading your perspective.

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  25. Wow, Laurie, what a great piece of adviceโ€”visualize the negative spaces. That is thought-provoking in so many ways. I love that you were in HS about the same time I was, not just the Mesozoic Era, but the EARLY Mesozoic Era! LOL. Thank you for sharing these encouraging thoughts today. You’ve given me a different perspective. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I am loving the empty time I am suddenly finding. Life was so frantic before the lockdown and we are filling the empty space with love and time together. I am actually starting to dread the rettunr to normality… Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

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    • I can definitely understand your dread of the return to normal life. Spending time with family and having more free time are so appealing! Thanks for hosting.

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  27. It’s definitely something I will take away from this whole experience – and that is holding onto the empty spaces that we have created as a family. We have spent more time together in the last month than we have in years and in it’s own way it has been amazing. I can say with certainty that when this pandemic has ended and the restrictions have lifted that I will be living my life differently. We were rushing around so much it was unhealthy so being forced to slow life down has been a blessing. What a lovely post Laurie! #globalblogging

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    • Yes, I think maybe some of us will miss those empty spaces when “normal” life resumes. I hope we remember the lessons we learned during the crisis. Thank you, Tracey!

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