Embrace the space of nothingness

December 16, 2015 LifeThoughts  No comments

Recently, I found myself in an art studio on King Street in downtown Charleston
(It was during my lunch break wanderings at YALLfest 2015 that I stumbled upon it.)

My eyes roamed across the walls and sections until they came upon the Walter Arnold Photography collection, and I literally could not look away. 

I was captivated. Breathless. 
It had me all geeking out like Cisco Ramon from The Flash
(got the “goosies” as he calls them)


In a world where no one stops talking, where new content pours out onto the internet and into our worldly sphere every second, where there’s just too much stuff vying for your attention every waking second… it’s a rare and beautiful piece of art that reaches out to you, makes you pause, makes you stop in your tracks, makes you look, and moves you. It was a singular moment in the string of moments that make up my small and insignificant life that I am grateful for, that I am honored to have experienced. 

After browsing the collection for a quarter of an hour, I ended up choosing two to take home. 

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Abandoned Castle – The Mason’s Castle – Upstate NY Walter Arnold Photography

This one had me instantly blinking back the blur of tears. I love the mystery, the enchantment, the call that beckons you to take one step, then one step more, and then another into the unknown… to discover all the infiniteness there is to discover… to answer the call of curiosity and wonder… to be apart of something bigger and more magical than yourself. Can you imagine the possibilities that winding staircase could lead you to discover? Can you imagine the adventure, the joy, the thrill of seeking? 

I’m not sure if this is what the photographer saw when he captured this picture, if that’s what he intended to put out into the world, but that’s what I saw in this picture. 



Such Great Heights - The Tennessee Brewing Company - Memphis, TN - Walter Arnold Photography

Such Great Heights – The Tennessee Brewing Company – Memphis, TN                                                                           Walter Arnold Photography

Just look at all that SPACE. All that potential. 
Reminds me of when the astronomy people used to bring that big blow-up igloo looking contraption to my elementary school (otherwise known as a portable planetarium, or a Starlab) that you had to get on hands and knees to crawl into. And then, sitting on the hard floor of the cafeteria stage, you’d look up and the whole universe would expand before you as you gazed at the stars. 

It was the same feeling I got when (much encouraged by libations) I went late-night swimming in the ocean off the coast of Marco Island, Florida with my husband and some friends. Floating on top of the calm warm waves, looking up at the expanse of stars above me with the endlessness of the ocean surrounding me, I experienced this transcendent, tremendous feeling of space. The feeling that you are so small, in a universe so wide; that you, in all your imperfections and mistakes and fuck-ups and confusion, are a part of something bigger than just yourself, just your story. 

The timing of my stumbling-upon of these photos is not lost on me. Even though the collection is entitled the Art of Abandonment, there is a lot of empty space (a pause,  removed from the hustle and bustle, lost to the passing of time) in a lot of these pictures.  

And space is a theme I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. So much so, that I would say that space is one of my core values. 

I think about space when I’m standing next to the ocean and am filled with such relief at the knowledge that NO ONE can inhabit its surface permanently. I think about space when I drive over the many bridges of the Charleston area, overlooking the marshes whose briny wildness only nature and the sea can possess. I think about space when I’m flying in an airplane, surrounded by sky and clouds. I think about space when I’m driving down a country road and there’s nothing but farmland. I think about space when I think about planning a trip next year to the Grand Canyon and the deserts of the west. I think about space when I plan my week around pockets of time where I’m not required to do anything but be. I think about space when I meditate in the morning and let my thoughts drift out of my mind. 

Ultimately, space is about embracing the nothingness. The void. So simple in its purity. 
It’s a terrifying thought for many, I know. But in a time when so much value is placed on getting more stuff, stuff, stuff and people are constantly enticing you to consume, consume, consume, it’s nice to be reminded that it’s okay to let go of all that shit and embrace the space. A place where you don’t have to think any thoughts or say a single word or be someone or do anything or fill up with more stuff you don’t really need.

A place where you can breathe.

Space isn’t a place you lose yourself, it’s the place where you find yourself—untouched by experiences and societal norms and expectations and pressures. 

So this holiday season, when everything is about more: stuff, food, baking, shopping, clothes, gifts, parties, time with loved ones, expectations, obligations, Hallmark Christmas movies, candy, you name it—I hope you are able to carve out some empty space for yourself. To let it all go.

And then go enjoy all those nifty new presents and Christmas cookies and mulled wine (that’s a thing, right?) and Christmas craziness with the people you love most. 

Happy Holidays! 


Until next time, farewell, & may your life never cease to be filled with wonder and curiosity.


photo creds: Walter Arnold Photography 



Some of my other favorites from the collection: reminiscent of my whole fascination with finding beauty in the brokenness. 
(Anyone else reminded of The Book of Eli by the motorcycle image?)

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