Last year, I took an InDesign certification course at Emory, which sent me in to an insatiable tizzy of wanting to design things. I took my first project to a friend who is a designer and asked her what she thought. One of the positive things she told me was that I had a good understanding of the importance of white space.
For a long time, white space was thought of as wasted space in design. But today, it's considered to be essential - it makes things easier to read, less overwhelming and creates balance.
I've been thinking a lot lately about the white space in life. It seems many of us consider it to be wasted time; we have to fill up every inch of our lives so we feel like we are performing to the best of our abilities. But, as I've slowed down in 2015, I've noticed that having more white space in my life has made me more effective.
I feel less overwhelmed and more balanced. And, in turn, I've had time to do things more effectively - from work to time with friends to cooking and all sorts of things in between - I'm not just pounding the pavement to get by.
In certain seasons of life, I've found myself swirling, as if I was on a Merry Go Round and I was trying to reach out to grab a hand or a tree or anything nearby to slow it down a little bit. During one of those seasons, I wrote myself an email with notes I took from a sermon on rest:
I don’t want to swirl with the environment around me – I want to learn to find rest and calm on my own. I cannot wait for my environment to calm, when, in fact, rest has nothing to do with the environment around me, but instead is is contingent upon the Lord within me. In the quiet, I will find wholeness, even when I feel broken by the pace.
Finding rest, peace and clarity comes when we stop swirling and create white space.
What is taking up the white space in your life? I go through phases where I can't even figure out what is sapping my time, but I finish every day feeling like there wasn't enough of it. In those times, I have to audit myself: Did I waste time online? Did I make unnecessary to do lists with tasks that didn't really have to get done today? Did I do things that give me a false sense of worth or earning, simply to feel the high of it? Am I working too much? Do I need to reevaluate my commute, my exercise habits? Did I take on too many volunteer projects, or offer to help too many people with tasks?
What nonessentials have I put into my white space? There will inevitably be seasons of chaos in life. Sometimes, we have to run hard and fast. But, if we're constantly living that way, it's too much. Life isn't meant to be a total grind. It's meant to be lived in community, pouring into ourselves and the people we love, pursuing our purpose and passion. It's meant to have white space, so we have room to doodle and play. It's meant to be enjoyed and lived well.
Living with white space this winter has taught me I'm at my best when I have it. And now? I'm protecting it fiercely and evaluating everything I'm putting into the margins.
What's taking up your white space today? What can you erase to give yourself a little more wiggle room?