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Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Power of Nothing

Thirty spokes converge upon a single hub;
It is on the hole in the center that the use of the cart hinges.
We make a vessel from a lump of clay;
It is the empty space within the vessel that makes it useful.
We make doors and windows for a room;
But it is these empty spaces that make the room livable.
Thus, while the tangible has advantages,
It is the intangible that makes it useful.

Tao Teh Ching

A few months ago I was talking to a friend about the hollow that has been left behind after delving myself into therapy.  We discussed how the frustration and disappointment and volatile anger had been replaced with, well, nothing.  Just space.  Some would call it room to grow, I’m sure, but for me it was just this spot where something was before which was now unfilled, like a lost tooth or the butt imprint left on a fluffy chair after one has been sitting there for too long.  At the time, I was flailing for something to fill the hole, never accepting that there was power in that empty space, a power I had never really had before.  That’s when my friend gave me the quote above.

I’m still struggling, months later.  I will whine, “What am I supposed to do?” and my therapist will give me that look, the one that shows me that she’s there with me in that moment in a way I don’t experience with anyone else at any other time and she’ll say, “Why do you have to do anything?”  My face twists up in frustration and I acknowledge that we’ve had this conversation over and over with a weak, “I know, I know…” but I don’t know.  I haven’t known.  It’s always been in the jokes I’ve told, the words I’ve said, the buttons I’ve pushed, the things I’ve made (or broken.)  It’s never occurred to me there was a power that resides in the things that are not.

What do I mean?

Well, think of it this way.  There is power in the words that are not said.  There is power in the silences between friends (or enemies.)  There is power in holding back and letting others do (for themselves or for me.)  There’s a power in not giving, in not loving, in not living.  There is power in simply listening, soaking it all in, letting it all flow around me without having to dip my fingers in and meddle.  There’s power in hesitation, there’s power in the desire or need to refrain.  There’s power in nothing more delicate and yet with more depth and intensity than I could have expected.  I’m only just now beginning to see it. 

It’s still frightening.  It’s still confusing.  It still goes against my very nature.  Still, I acknowledge it exists, even if I can’t harness that power or make it mine just yet.

Posted by Liberty on 11/12 at 07:42 PM
Posted under: See-ThroughNaBloPoMo

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