The space between

Dandy-dog

Dandy dog

When I opened the book I ordered on-line, the thing I noticed immediately was neither the beautiful photography and the carefully crafted knitting patterns nor the lyrical language of the stories accompanying the patterns. What I noticed was the lack of white space. Paragraphs bumped into each other like commuters in Toronto and margins were narrower than country roads.  Photos worthy of singular exposure were lost in a visual melange. There was no place for my eyes to linger or rest.

I felt like a Panini pressed between paragraphs. I wanted a moment to breathe and think. I needed space to digest what came before and what was coming next.

My husband has a gap in his front teeth. It looks dramatic, like he was in a doozy of a fight but the truth is one was removed six months ago in preparation for an implant. He opted out of a fake tooth to get him through these months of healing before the final stage. He grins like a Halloween pumpkin. The change in his appearance is startling and every time he smiles I have to remind myself that his IQ was not removed with the tooth.

The tooth will be replaced next week, just in time for our youngest daughter’s high school graduation ceremony and the many photo opportunities the occasion will present. The gap will be closed and he will be himself again.

Searching

What’s next?

Our daughter, however, has entered the space between ending and beginning – a margin so wide a Broadway chorus line could perform in it. She’s got a plan for the fall which entails more education with a tight study schedule designed to cram her brain full of stuff she’ll use in a career when she graduates. Maybe. Or maybe she’ll take a breather part way through the program she’s chosen. Maybe even her path will change completely.

In the meantime, as she approaches final exams and graduation, she is relaxing. She hasn’t stopped studying entirely but she’s pulled back. I’m trying not to panic as I worry that she’s given up in favour of developing a busy social life. Perhaps, I think, what she needs right now is time to breathe and live in this white space for a while.

I think she knows this is a period of change and that once high school is over her life will take on a different focus. Maybe she’s worried, too, maybe even a little scared. She worries the decisions she makes now are irreversible, that she’s a Panini flattened between choices.

When I broach the subject she says “I find that annoying,” so I back off, aware this is her space to navigate. Somehow, though, I want to help her understand that whenever she needs it, she can create her own gaps in her story. And that those gaps are important and necessary – and okay.

Colour-path

Finding the right path

 

 

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45 thoughts on “The space between

  1. As a grandmother, I’ve come to appreciate kids who say what they feel or need. So I’m taken with your daughter’s, “I find that annoying.” May she come to her own resolutions. Thank you for this rift on blank spaces, which I can tell you from this self-publishing saga must be worked into the product.

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    • I try to listen to my kids without chiming in with advice but it is SO hard! And then to top it off I sound like my mother when I do offer my thoughts.

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  2. It’s important to remember that space, and gaps, are necessary. Never good to feel like a panini. I’ve found room for many more bits of space now that I’m retired. When I was your daughter’s age I packed everything in too….trust me, she’ll look back and wish she had planned more gaps. But no one ever does when they’re that age. Enjoy your space today!

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    • Thanks, Dawn. I enjoy the space you’ve created in your life and that you post on your blog. Looking forward to joining you in the retirement zone one day.

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  3. Nice post Susanne, thanks. It reminds me of how important it is to cultivate our attention, to create – to even curate – the space in which to cultivate our own self-awareness. To be a human be-ing instead of always a human do-ing.

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    • I imagine white space is just as important in art as it is in laying out text in a book. I like your take on the use of space to cultivate self-awareness – being instead of doing. We do make ourselves crazy with busyness, don’t we?

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      • Thanks Susanne – yes, white space and what is “left out” is just as important when composing artwork as it is when writing text. Re: crazy busyness – I’ve had a small illness recently and it’s made me very aware of being careful with my time. I’ve begun to think each morning “What am I most excited about today?” and doing whatever that is and the heck with everything else. It’s made for a pleasant less-crazy-busy time. Which makes me think – why didn’t I adopt this perspective sooner? Lol! I’ve been finding it helpful to “leave out” certain busy-making things…. 😉 All the best to you – and thanks for your kind comments!

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    • Thanks, Andrea. I was enjoying some space between Sunday and Monday on my front deck reading, relaxing. The older I get the more I crave and understand the need for gaps in time.

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  4. I am not weepy. Nope.
    The way they jam choices and curricula down young people’s throats these days, who could blame them for not knowing there should be space, and for thinking it’s okay to change their minds? I really, strongly relate to that, Suzanne. This weekend has been a line of seemingly endless open houses for graduates, and each graduate has looked more and more hollow, I swear. I know they will be happier when the hoopla dies down. Some normalcy, some just their own family time, some quiet.
    Love the bit about your husband’s tooth, too.

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    • Thanks for this, Joey. I think we’re all a little guilty of pushing them to choose and make the right choice and hurry up and grow up but there’s a price and its in their mental health.

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  5. I laughed out loud at the statement about having to remind yourself that his IQ wasn’t removed with his tooth. Coincidentally, we were just talking about that very subject before I read your post … that visual input strongly influences our perception.

    I love your ability to correlate concepts like white space in text with the time we need to assimilate change in our lives. Congratulations to your daughter and best wishes to you as you assimilate these changes happening in your world. This is both exciting and yet an unsettling time. Enjoy as much of that white space as possible 🙂

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  6. Love, love, love it: ‘a Panini flattened between choices.’ Such a tricky time of life, I have watched some of my nieces navigate those final years of high school. A real juggle of hard slog and keeping a grip on normality and perspective. And supporting them in that, is a high-wire circus act in itself.

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    • It is a tricky time and anything I say can and will be held against me! But I keep trying and supporting and listening and worrying – the core of a mother’s job, right?

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  7. Beautiful musings. I like my space, but sometimes the crammed effect works too. My daughter tends to let the white space extend unnecessarily sometimes😉

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    • A mage! That is so cool. Metaphors fail me at the moment but I’m honoured to take up the caduceus or whatever the deuce a Mage would take up. Thank you, Donna. You are the mage of kindness.

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  8. I remember being young and knowing – KNOWING – that if I didn’t get it done now I would never do it. My life would be over by the time I was 25 or at the latest, 30. I often think of that younger version of me and how much I have learnt since then about life being a river where we can swim against the current or go with the flow. I didn’t really truly understand the flow thing until I was about 60. I guess it’s a process 🙂 Your book sounds awful. Your husband sounds weirdly cute and if that is your girl in the photos, she looks like she is leading the way. Did your cards ever arrive?

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    • The cards haven’t arrived, Pauline. I expect them in about a month – in time for the 2nd get together of me and my gal pals. 😉

      I wish young folk would listen to their elders but it was ever thus, eh? I wouldn’t say I’m there with the “go with the flow” crowd yet though I’m learning how to cross the river w/out drowning.

      The book isn’t awful, just poorly designed. Strangely, there is tons of white space allowed for the patterns. I suspect this was a case of self-publishing and the authors found it hard to kill their darlings. I don’t regret the purchase though.

      You correctly identified my daughter at the head of the pack!

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      • I go into meltdown with your parcels! Why does it take so long? I asked especially at the PO about time and told them of the two month delay on the last packet and they said no, it’s the standard ten working days, must be customs! I do hope you get them in time for the next gathering!

        I actually heard myself say to one of my very adult daughters not so long ago ‘why can’t you learn from my mistakes?’ There was a brief pause while we looked at each other then burst into guffaws of laughter. So it is!!

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  9. *I have to remind myself that his IQ wasn’t removed with the tooth* … brilliantly funny line but it’s the whole of this that shines – reflectively shines. Those gaps are so essential – I guess we learn that when we have left high school along with the great lesson that we can change our minds and our paths and that there is no law to stop us – quite the contrary. Bon courage to you and to your daughter who I am sure will shine when she needs to having taken gaps in her study to …. whatever she will 🙂

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    • If anything Osyth, I hope my example – discovering a love of writing at my advanced age – serves as a life lesson that its never too late to change your mind/direction. My daughter is far more sensible at 18 that I was at 35 so I think she’ll be fine where ever she lands. I just have to keep reminding myself of that and let her live in the gaps without me driving her batty.

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      • I was going to comment on the line that Osyth mentioned — and realize that everything she said reflects my own sentiments, so ditto! Such a lovely tribute to the spaces between on so many levels. And it is a good thing to try and not annoy our children any more than we must.😇

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      • Haha! My youngest daughter eclipses all her sisters and I combined in the good sense stakes – chapeau to your girlie for that! It’s awfully hard being a parent and stepping back and giving them the space to decide what is right is possibly the hardest bit of all 🙂

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  10. Hopefully your husband will soon be attending those Mensa meetings again. Nice use of metaphors throughout, Susanne.

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  11. “The change in his appearance is startling and every time he smiles I have to remind myself that his IQ was not removed at the same time as the tooth.” Since I’m in the same toothless position for at least another month (with the Pearl Jam concert approaching before that), I know exactly how he feels. *grins* because I can only grin online between the lines. Soon all will be good. The amount of worrying is NOT in correlation with the amount of things that happen, good or bad.

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    • I feel that my worrying is preventive and serves to lower my expectations. ie. If I worry enough, reality will be a breeze!

      As for the smiles, have you mastered the toothless grin with your lips sealed? My husband has become quite good at it.

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      • Hehhe, I do everything with lips sealed. Only with gelato it’s hard. As for worrying, this kind reminds me of my mother (who celebrates tomorrow). She worked all her life in Public Relations and her job consisted of worrying about what might go wrong (at an event she helped put together). I suppose this is the breeze she felt when all was went smoothly. I understand but for my sister it has been traumatic.

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    • Thank you, L. Benton. I forgot to mention how my external hard drive crashed recently and all the stories I wrote disappeared with it. It gives new meaning to “white space”. I ought to be more concerned but I feel oddly liberated.

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