By Nicole V
We said goodbye to an old friend yesterday. It was a hi-fi system that had served us faithfully for many years.
I was with my then-boyfriend (now husband) when he purchased it and â€“ as it was large and really heavy â€“ I remember us taking a cab back to his place and watching him set it up in his room. After we got married, it moved with us to 3 different homes and brought us countless hours of enjoyment and relaxation (thank you, Old Faithful!). After working tirelessly for so long, it finally gave up the ghost and my husband dismantled it and it left our home soon after â€“ Iâ€™m blessed to have a husband who doesnâ€™t let things sit around long enough to become clutter.
The corner where it used to stand is now bare and each time I walk in and out of our living room, my eyes are invariably drawn to the emptiness. We have no desire to fill the space with something else or to shuffle our furniture around to fill the space. I feel that when space opens up in our home, it should be left alone â€“ as far as possible â€“ to just be. Our home needs breathing space as much as we do and we love the calm and peace of an uncluttered home. I have been in cluttered environments before and have often felt like the figure in Edvard Munchâ€™s painting â€˜The Screamâ€™, as all I wanted to do was to turn and run â€¦ fast.
Throughout our decluttering journey, we have felt the impact of pockets of space opening up in our home, and this has energized us and helped to keep up the momentum of weeding out the superfluous. It is amazing how a room can be refreshed, not by adding furniture or tchotchkes, but by removing unnecessary furniture and stuff, and just keeping those things that we love, need and use. The French novelist Antoine de Saint-Exupery said that â€œPerfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take awayâ€.
I have often wondered about human attitudes and behaviour towards space. I have come across people who simply seem unable to leave any space bare and must find something â€“ anything â€“ to fill it up with. It is almost as if an empty space is a blight on the landscape or an affront to the eyes. â€œNature abhors a vacuumâ€, Aristotle said. Sometimes I wonder if human beings are the ones who abhor a vacuum more. Ah, well, different strokes for different folks, I guess.
The concept of space â€“ whether white, positive or negative â€“ plays an important role in design, art, sculpture, music and photography. White space plays an essential role as an element of design that helps to convey the message and make it easier for that message to be processed and understood. Think of your favourite book or magazine â€“ how enjoyable a read would it be if it had been printed with no line or paragraph spacing whatsoever?
Positive and negative space usually refer to the subject and the space that surrounds the subject in an image respectively. Negative space is important as it serves to define the boundaries of positive space and highlight it. The Dutch artist M. C. Escher is known for cleverly blurring the transformation between positive and negative space in â€˜Sky and Waterâ€™ and many of his other works. But I digress. People perceive space differently â€“ when you look at the image of â€˜Rubinâ€™s Vaseâ€™, do you see the white vase or the faces in black first? Do you see the old lady or the young lady first, when you look at the optical illusion of â€˜The hag and the beautyâ€™? And when you look at an empty corner in your home, do you see breathing space or space to be filled?
John Ruskin said that â€œThere is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in itâ€. Music is not just about the notes â€“ the silences or spaces between the notes also play a part in the beauty of the composition, giving meaning and adding depth to the melody. Without these pauses, all we would hear is noise. Similarly, a cluttered home can result in a cacophony of â€œvisual noiseâ€ instead of a â€œvisual melodyâ€. How can treasured items stand out if there is a veritable babel of â€œvisual noiseâ€ emanating from all the clutter in the negative space?
The following quote by the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu beautifully illustrates the essence of empty space:
Thirty spokes meet in the hub,Â but the empty space between themÂ is the essence of the wheel.
Pots are formed from clay,Â but the empty space within itÂ is the essence of the pot.
Walls with windows and doorsÂ form the house,but the empty space within itÂ is the essence of the home.
What part does empty space play in the essence of your home?
P/S: In case you were wondering, we have an existing hi-fi system at home that has stepped up to the plate, so the music plays on. We think Old Faithful would approve.
Today’s Mini Mission
Find something in your linen closetÂ that you havenâ€™t used for three months and let it go.
â€œIf we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think weâ€™d beÂ happy withÂ more?â€ â€” Unknown
Eco Tip for the Day
Sort every little thing into yourÂ recycling bin that you can. What hasn’t been refused, reduced or reused should be recycled for the good of the environment.
For a full list of my eco tips so far click here
It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when Iâ€™m slow