The first hot, humid day of the year lured me to the basement of my parents’ house, where the cement floor promised to keep me cool with almost the same efficiency as our not-yet-installed air conditioner. I had been planning to sort through the storage bins that held the contents of my life, to purge the items that no longer serve a purpose, in preparation for my inevitable and final move out of my childhood home. Almost three decades of a tangible memoir loomed ominously below my floorboards, a task so daunting that I willfully postponed its undertaking for weeks after the initial idea crossed my mind.
On this particular day, the sticky air was the impetus for me to finally burrow underground and get to cleaning. However, once my feet touched the cold floor, I was immobilized by the man-made towers of belongings that had turned the space into a crowded metropolis of nostalgia and trivialities. My eyes surveyed the scene with a sense of unfamiliarity quickly stifled by shame.
I stood amongst the overwhelming rubble of collapsed memory structures, trapping bodies of our former selves in their wreckage. The entire basement was like an ant farm, with narrow tunnels carved between lofty piles of dusty possessions, weaving in directions that all lead to walls and the stark realization that we are merely prisoners to the confines of our perception. The smaller the cell, the more enclosed we feel. The larger the cell, apparently, the more space we fill with items that time eventually robs of their significance. Irregardless, we end up bound by limitations, restrained by our own will to define our existence by objects rather than the openness available to us.
Herein lies the trouble with expanding your consciousness – your awareness does not selectively focus only on what you are comfortably willing to see or experience. Instead, it is unbiased, unrelenting. If I am constantly changing and evolving, I must accept that so too are the spaces we occupy. The very foundation of our home, of our lives, had become cluttered through disregard for the sanctity of the expanse needed for our roots to take hold.
We have a tendency to find comfort in the material world we create while ignoring the imperceptible breadth of nothingness that allows those things to exist. We keep crypts of photographs and childhood mementos because we fool ourselves into believing these things form our identity. Perhaps we fear that without these corporeal treasures and once our physical form submits to certain dissolution, we cease to be anything. Lack of substance is nothingness, inanity.
The atoms in our bodies are comprised of significantly more empty space than they are matter, and yet they are not devoid of purpose. It is this very emptiness which defines the borders of substance that we regard as the manifestation of our physical selves. By this notion, we should honor the freedom and unfathomable possibility of our empty spaces rather than feeling compelled to fill them with mundane objects of transient importance.
We are not merely abandoned relics covered in cobwebs. We are limitless, undefinable immensity. We are foundations on which we can build ourselves. We are empty spaces. And I choose to leave mine open to opportunity.