Some Thoughts On Spaciousness

To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wilderness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace.

I’ve been lying awake nights fearing that every phantom pain is another blood clot, and I’ve been trying to find comfort meditating on the “spaces between”. I imagine I feel my blood, thin and flowing.

I imagine the spaces between each red cell, between each white cell, and platelet – the spaces between the cells that forms the plasma that flows through the stent in my pelvis. I imagine the flow with each heartbeat.

But there is a fear in every moment between. In every silence.

It’s a numbing dramaturgy.

I’ve written of the spaces between before. In my last book, actually. And tonight I remembered that, and I reread it as a stranger would- It was unfamiliar, but I found myself content with the work. It was a pleasant feeling. Pleasantness requires an absence of fear, and it was… pleasant.

It’s been a while since I have written poetry. I felt like I’d glimpsed something of myself I’ve forgotten. These spaces between spaces were full of secrets. And promise.

Minutes later I’m pulled out of recognition – or maybe a kind of pride – by a stranger’s completely coincidental criticism. I feel myself contract. Like a fist folding and clenching, leaving no space for movement. My breathing stops high in my chest – well above my heart. My shoulder blades pull forward, sliding like tortoise shell over my vulnerabilities. I take on an unskilled warrior pose.

“Good for nothing.” Between those words is my late grandfather’s growl. A strange sadness in the space bridging my thoughts now. A space bridging worlds, really.

My gestalt therapist talks about sadness, anger and fear. But he talks about them as if there were one to rule each pain. As if there were space between them.

A dharma talk I listened to this week took up the science of the dark matter of the world. The spaces between spaces, the mysteries inside every atom. It left me feeling nostalgic. It left me wondering why I feel so constricted now. Why am I hunting for delight and desire instead of watching in stillness, letting them flow into view?

– Instead of trusting that they will flow into view.

You’d think I’d have learned by now that there is no reason to have to swim when I am moving with the current. All this unnecessary “sound and fury”.

I’m a very poor swimmer to begin with. In a still pool, my arms and legs thrash wildly and my heart-rate tops 160, and I barely- somewhat incidentally – move forward. And this seems to be how I am moving through my life lately.

A stranger says my words lacks clarity. And fear moves in to fill the spaces: what if there’s no time for me to really learn clarity? Not some stranger’s sense of clarity, but my own.

What if I never stop thrashing, and trust in the silent spaciousness? What if I never really allow myself to experience the eternity that flows in the spaces between – between the fears and the sadness(es) and the anger(s), in the in-between each beat of a heart?


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  1. Oh Ren, I wish you saw you as I see you. I even trust your blood. To flow. And I love your writing. Your thought processes. Your courage. The courage that means we are gifted the chance to read your thoughts. Keep being you. Eventually you will trust your Self, in the way that we do, and you will forget all the damaged people who commented on the wonder you are, and you will surely see the brave, strong, intelligent, gifted creature we see. x

    • Thank you, Di. As always, you lift me up. I debated hitting publish on this actually, knowing it came off more self-pitying than intended – but just letting myself go there – because these small moments are very real, though rarely overwhelming.

      • I’m glad. The wee hours are my most ‘spectacular’ times, and I know it but sometimes they eat me up for a while. And I’m glad you hit publish x

  2. I am consoled. Especially “ Why am I hunting for delight and desire instead of watching in stillness…”
    Thank you.

  3. your voice makes things stir for me. reading, you make me look to understand, really understand, what you mean of yourself, and you set me to wondering about myself. I want to be such a conversation.

    and do I? do I understand? not uncommonly I think, yes, then hesitate and ask myself a second, then third time around. I have gratitude for the challenge and whatever the discovery when it might arrive.

    more so of late I’ve no need for a telescope to see my end of the universe. no, not immediate but neither out of sight.

    daily, no, hourly I often remind myself to appreciate the smallest bits of imagining. how much is my dream. and the choice is yes and no. and only yes has existence at all. will the world hold together if it slips from my gaze? will I? maybe it has no need for our glue?

    and what drama we perform. for our not-seeing-eyes. choose. always. choose. land where your smiles do. nothingelsematters.

    • Neil, your comments are such a joy to read, you have no idea. I am privileged to have such thought-provoking words for you.