Empty Space and the Problem with Permanence


The problem with permanence is that if I were to secure the most precious thing inside the box and wrap it tightly forever, could it stay precious and will it still matter? Twenty years ago, in that heart-pounding moment, the acquisition of the box was all that mattered. Today, its contents are what matter. That fleeting moment of the heist exists simply as a unique combination of a few million synapses firing in my brain. The fleeting nature of everything exists in exactly the same way.

If I didn’t own this box, the tiny space it envelopes wouldn’t matter. Tiny spaces exist everywhere, without a need to fill them, so why is this space so important to permanently fill? Perhaps because the container’s sides, top, and bottom give the empty space a specific beginning and end, a border that defines where it is and where it is not. That in itself makes it special. Perhaps it shouldn’t be filled at all.

Empty space is incredibly important: empty space between spoken words can be an uncomfortable silence, a gentle poetic pause to emphasize meaning, or a moment to silently create the perfect combination of words. The unadorned empty space above a sofa can be boring and drab, or a space to rest your eyes from spaces filled with clutter.

Empty space: a silent bump that forces you to slow down and think of what isn’t, what could be, and what is; what’s missing, its potential, and appreciation.


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