Image by Rombo on Unsplash
Whether it was Mozart or Debussy, this quote is one to ponder: “Music is the silence between the notes.” Because it’s in that silence that you’ll find the white space where you will discover the music of your life, the song you’re here to sing.
Recent conversations with coaching clients have led to discussions about “white space”. Not always in that exact language but always dancing around the idea. I have loved this concept since I heard it from Coach Dawn Kotzer, Inner Wilderness Guide, Doodle Activist and the Real Deal (that last one is my title for her.) That was quite a few years ago. She was speaking about the white space on our calendar, the idea of blocking out unscheduled time. I contacted her recently and asked her how she’s looking at it now.
“Energetically speaking,” she said, “White Space- fluid & flexible, immune to the needy, BS part of ego – is home to our creative soul and where we most effortlessly access our core of peace.”
Can you feel it?
That still feels so open and expansive to me. I get it; I seek it. I know what she means on a gut level. At the same time, it’s amorphous and can, therefore, be difficult to articulate. Those coaching conversations made me realize I hadn’t reached down deep enough for the right language.
One client spoke about how busy her life was years ago with kids and work and home. Life is less structured now but she’s still carrying the old busy mindset. She pondered, “How do we figure out how to not have our days crammed full?”
I offered my definition of white space – open, unscheduled time to do nothing. She disagreed. She felt that it wasn’t possible to do nothing. I guess it was how I explained it because she is right. (I love this about my clients. They are so wise.) I wasn’t explaining that gut level understanding well enough. I still hadn’t gotten the exact right language.
Or is it life’s margins
Another woman I was working with described building and maintaining the margins of life. Oh! That made me sit back in my chair and take it into every cell.
Those margins are non-existent in the first half of life as we rush through our days. Working, tending, doing. And, just like my other client mentioned, we carry that restrictive, busy mindset into the second half of life. All that rushing and doing that’s no longer needed except our habit makes it so. We strive to fill the margins.
I love the idea of cultivating the margins of life. That’s the expansiveness I crave and closer to my visceral understanding of white space. If I need a visual, maybe it’s the contrast between a narrow highway with no shoulder and those roads with generous edges. Narrow spaces bring discomfort. The wide edges create space. And in that place, we can discern and act on what is most important.
Is it just thinking time?
So, what is the essence of white space, after all? As the first client said to me, “It’s always something, right?”
True. I can sit on a chair and gaze out the window but there’s never a void. I’m thinking, ruminating, dreaming. All of this is good. So, call it what it is. Thinking time.
But it’s more than that. It’s protected time. Time claimed just for me, bounded by stillness and quiet space. Okay maybe I’m getting closer.
Leo Barbauta, of Zen Habits, wrote a post that I mentioned it in an earlier blog. It has a powerful pull for me. He likens the white space in design to white space in life. He describes white space in life as a place where we are able to get more clarity, peace, breathing room and balance. It’s the removal of the non-essential that enables us to have the time and space to figure out what is most important. Only then can we give it the emphasis it deserves.
Whatever you call it, you need it
It’s similar to the second of Stephen Covey’s Four Quadrants. The important but not urgent. A place most of us are not used to occupying in a busy Second Age or first half of life. But a perfect place in which to unfurl, develop and sink into a Multidimensional Life.
There are as many ways to look at this are there are eyes. But, at its core, I believe it is the claiming of time to intuit what is best for you in the moment and in this stage of your life. It’s tuning in to your own music. It is a creative process that is unique to each of you and carries a language you will need to create for yourself.
Whatever language you use, this concept is essential to a Multidimensional Life. In their own language, it resonates with my clients and and elevates the work we do together.
What will you call it? How will you describe it? And, most importantly, how will you incorporate it into your life and find that clarity and peace?
Don’t make it a big project. Look for moments. Let them build like beautiful, soaring music. Create your White Space and listen for your song.