Over the summer, I read chapters from the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu. I only read one chapter a day in order to allow the meanings of the words to filter through me. I sometimes do this to create the world in which I live by defining sensory experiences through words and their meanings. My friend Katie wrote a blog entry recently concerning space. At the end of the entry, she asked the readers “What spaces have been instrumental in your life and how have you celebrated them?”
This question intrigued me, and I quickly drew a connection with the 11th entry of the Tao Te Ching.
Thirty spokes meet at a hollowed-out hub;
the wheel won’t work without its hole.
A vessel is moulded from solid clay;
its inner emptiness makes it useful.
To make a room, you have to cut doors and windows;
without openings, a place isn’t livable.
To make use of what is here,
you must make use of what is not.
Obviously there are many analogies you can make to understand the poem. You could talk about how music, without space between notes, would be a constant noise with no time for reflection. Or about how space is the reason why FC Barcelona are the greatest soccer team in the world. The way I understand it is, space is at the center of all things. There is space in every encounter, in every thought, in every gesture, in every word. Space does not just envelop you though. It is something you have to enter. Space may always be there, but you have to actually go there.
Without space, there is no fluidity or spontaneity. Without space, everything goes where it is expected with about as much maneuverability as a pac-man. Space can help you stay centered without being tripped up by things you perceive as part of you. Space can let you create another door without getting tangled up in the expected.
Before we celebrate important spaces in our life, let’s become aware of how we use space and where we see it.