Last night my daughter stared at the front top space of her mouth. She was mourning the loss of her tooth. As I watched her, she asked, “Is the space going to be there forever ?” I knew that her wide eyes depended on my answer. Without hesitation, I said, “Of course, in time, a new tooth will grow in that space.”

Her question prompted me to contemplate the idea of space and our need to constantly try and fill it with something.  I’ve noticed in the last few weeks my mind gravitates toward a restlessness I’m not able to explain or quantify. If there is one thing that troubles me, it is my sheer inability to stay still. I suspect because of this, I am constantly moving. It shows. Even though my husband and friends have begged me to try yoga, I am married to my morning runs. The truth is, I am unable to occupy a space with breath and silence. It’s the same reason, most mornings are filled with activities, running, reading, writing, and random errands. There are very few moments where I am completely still. When I can’t sleep sometimes, even if it is 3:00 a.m., I reach for my phone, slip under the comforter, and surf the web.

Sitting still and not seeking to fill the space with thoughts or words or actions is not part of my personal philosophy. Empty space intimidates me. But I know that I will never attain a true calmness or peace, if there is a constant need to do instead of to be. It’s the reason, I suspect, why many of us are constantly busy. Are we accomplishing anything really? Or is it just so that we can fill the space?

Socrates in his wisdom warned us to “beware of the barrenness of  a busy life.”

Just because we are doing, doesn’t necessarily mean it lends to being. Some spaces must stay empty. The moments contained in that emptiness provide the truest of epiphanies.


Are you intimidated by empty space? Does being busy prompt feelings of accomplishment?