Let the sun shine through the cracks – 間 – the spaces between.

 

Ma

The Japanese kanji “ma” graphically combines the characters for “door” and “sun”.

When I was a little girl in Okinawa, we went to Kabuki Theater as a family. I was struck by the stark costumes, sets, the unfamiliar sounds, and music. However, what was the most striking to me was the silence between sounds, the pauses, and the rest. I later learned, there is a Japanese concept called “Ma” which is pervasive throughout Eastern art, music, and culture. “Ma” roughly translates to “space.” It is the idea of the negative space or gaps between compositional elements. It is these spaces that serve to accentuate what came before and what has yet to come.

These last few weeks I have found myself in this kind of space, the spaces between: Between a home I am leaving behind and one waiting for me 1,561 miles south by south west. Between a wonderful job that kickstarted my professional career and an unknown workplace with coworkers and patients I have yet to meet.

Although I have spent a good deal of my life moving, a nomadic turtle with my house on my back; every time I move I am struck by the concept of space. How much space is there in my car? How much space do I need for my things? How much space between point A and B? But most importantly, I am reminded of the space inside of me. Not the gooey visceral bits, the intangible space. I like to hold space inside of myself for the homes I created (no matter how briefly) and especially the people who enlivened some of that space with laughter, tears, joy.

Often I strive to fill space, those awkward pauses in conversation or that “lonely corner” in the house without adornment. It is almost as though it’s emptiness is not complete. What I am learning each time I revisit those intangible spaces inside myself is the beauty of their openness. How it is those spaces, not the physical elements around them that are the light and the spark of human imagination and love.

The experience between the action, the breath, the pause, the sun shining through the crack in an open door.

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