Monday, March 08, 2010

The importance of white spaces



I read about white spaces the first time in Subroto Bagchi’s book, The Professional. It said, “In printed matter of a book, white space denotes emptiness or spaces between words so that we can read characters that form the word and a group of words that form a sentence. In professional lives, white space is a train or a bus ride to work, it is the time waiting outside a client’s office, the time spent on long flights. We have all been given huge white spaces in life”

Earlier all my usual free spaces were consumed by deliberate cramming of work; either poring into a book or scribbling down thoughts to paper. In short, forcing myself into a seemingly productive activity. But then lately, I have begun to realize the importance of enjoying non-activity sometimes.

Observing the results of non activity closely I have realized something. Non activity most of the time is more productive. Using non active time consciously to think improves the quality of thoughts. With clinical practice, your thoughts become more creative in time. It would soon be a pleasant self revelation for you to know that you could become so creative. But the fact is you do not become creative; creativity was always with you. You only helped unearth it.

No wonder Newton and Archimedes achieved zenith of their creative genius at their most non active moments. One was day dreaming under the apple tree; the other basking in the hot water tub of his bathroom.

White spaces also improve the quality of your life. Reflecting and contemplating on your actions improves your self awareness. Narayanmurthy of Infosys before resigning to bed spends a couple of minutes replaying the entire day in his mind’s eye to look for instances where he would have behaved or acted inappropriately. This practice of self correction everyday is immensely useful for self development.

Earlier I would be guilty of wasting such white spaces and hence cram it with things I felt were more productive. Now with this self revelation I glow with the prospect of having so many white spaces in life. Be it waiting at the reception to meet a client, standing in a bank’s queue, waiting for a person to arrive etc.

Last week on my way to Aurangabad from Ellora caves on bus we had to cross a ghat road after sun set. But due to a blockade, the bus had to wait for 6 long hours in that mountain road. I boarded down the bus in the pitch darkness. The villages deep below the hill were shimmering with little lights. After a while I lied down at the embankment of the road with my head up towards the sky. What I saw up were millions of stars twinkling, with varied sizes and intensity. The sky was clear as glass. At this height I was so close to them. I sky gazed for the rest of the night. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of life. A gift of a beautiful white space presented on a black night.

White spaces also enable you to engage in self talk. I have seen people who cant stand being alone even for a brief period. Their hands would soon work their way to their phone pad and dial a random friend. Spending time with yourself and self talking is so important because your consciousness gets programmed during these moments. Your soul metamorphoses during these precious minutes. These are the moments where you get those little knocks and nudges that shapes you. It is like a potter tapping a half baked pot to perfect its roundedness. We too get rounded during these moments.


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Smile Friday, April 02, 2010 9:09:00 AM  

for the first time i have really liked your post...your quality of life is improving..its good that u have realised that life isnt just about drowning in work...work of course is worship but then what is the life of a person who worships all day(in your case, all night as well)... keep the good work on!!

Anonymous,  Thursday, July 08, 2010 6:36:00 PM  

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