After a couple months of house guests and pet sitting, we spent the day cleaning everything. We were rearranging, reevaluating, relocating and releasing. We found dust in corners we forgot we had, and shoes that hadn’t been worn in years. As I considered more meaningful implications of this routine task, I began to see a paradox unfold:
New things require space and space must be made for new things.
Sounds like a “chicken or egg” conundrum, doesn’t it? Without a doubt, the statement, “new things require space,” is true. The inverse, however, may also be true at an individually resonant level: “Space is required before new things can be integrated.”
When the old is doing nothing but taking up space, it’s time to release it. These can include shoes, clothes, paperwork, books, art, knick-knacks, as well as thoughts, ideas, beliefs, habits, and sometimes even people.
For many, going through closets or storage spaces (life) and releasing things that are no longer useful or supportive is not an easy task, and it is often an emotional one. It requires making a distinction between who you remember yourself to be, and who you are now (e.g., things that may have made sense in a previous version of me may no longer be things that make sense in the current version of me). There is a powerful wisdom in being able to recognize the difference between the things we hold onto because they are meaningful, and the things we hold onto because they are comfortable.
It takes tremendous courage and self-inquiry to determine what’s no longer serving you. It’s even more challenging if there is a charge of fear around it – the fear of loss, abandonment, or non-recoverability – fear can bring up very real impediments. Yet, we realize that it is only through self-inquiry that we can question the sanity of any type of fear, and then fearlessly move beyond it.
New things require space, and when that new thing comes, we have to try and figure out where to put it, and how it fits into the current situation. This is not an easy task if we haven’t taken the time to first make space. In fact, it can even create friction if the consciousness that created the old, and the consciousness that created the new, are in disparity.
Through a daily practice of prayer, meditation and contemplation, we engage the process of self-inquiry, one that puts us squarely in the driver’s seat of choosing how we will experience the inflow and outflow of our life’s activities. Through self-inquiry, we are proactive in the creative process, and we begin to make decisions through contemplative present moment action, rather than after-the-fact reaction.
As these next couple months wind down to the new year, let us take time to consider what is taking up space in our heads, in our homes, in our lives; and not only what is taking up space, but also what is taking up time; and not only what is taking up time, but also what is using up energy. For in so doing, we will recognize that there will always be far better results when the soil is first intentionally prepared, and we have created… Space.
I love one of the definitions of the word, space: “a continuous area or expanse that is free, available, or unoccupied.” That sounds pretty good to me. How about you?
Peace and blessings,
Parrot-loving student of existential phenomenology and its psychological implications upon the human experience.