The Unfulfilling Desire to Fill Space

We’ve all been in social situations where we’re suddenly struck by a moment of awkwardness, or strange silence. It feels like something has gone wrong or we’ve mistakenly turned into a dead end. Then, we look for an action as a solution, forgetting that doing nothing is also an action. So we begin to tell a story, or ask a question, or talk about nothing, really. We try to fill the space because empty space can feel both uncomfortable and incorrect. Something must be done about it. The way we fill the space tends not to be meaningful or representative of ourselves, but we do it anyway. There is space and it must be filled, like there is a glitch in the system.

We may look at undeveloped land and think of it as a waste. Why would land, perhaps with a great view, in a great climate, or in a great location, just “be.” Something must be done to it. There must be some human interaction to improve it. That’s part of our unsustainable system of growth. And it leaves us at a loss for wild places and does not allow nature to inspire and surprise us.

We’ve all looked at a new home’s vacant rooms and saw them as empty spaces in need of filling. That’s the word we use: empty. Not full of potential memories, or places to expand ourselves, or a warm shelter. If a space is considered too empty, it needs “something” so furniture in brought in to solve the problem (which eventually gets covered or stuffed with stuff). Even when our homes are overwhelmingly full and disorganized, we may determine that the solution must be a purchase or an addition of something. Often times this is just a cover up of the underlying problem.

We seem to have the instinctual need to fill space: whether in conversation, out in nature, or even (especially) in our own home. How about looking for space, rather than trying to fill it? Let’s widen our stance and stretch out our arms, rather than to box ourselves in. My goal is not only to assist people in organizing their homes, it’s to help them create space. Space is what allows us to pause. Space is where we can find joy, where we can reflect, where we can just be. Space is a little bit of freedom.

One of the most beautiful experiences many of us have had is sitting in a comfortable silence. We describe it this way because most silences are uncomfortable. We tend to define our relationships on just how comfortable our silences are. When we don’t have the desire to fill space, we are happy, and we can just be. Your home can be this way too.