One of the things I love most about my new home is the convergence of the elements: surf either pounding the shore or caressing it, hills arching in to the sky, the sun sparkling on the water, the breeze whispering to the trees and icing my skin. Here on the coast, I am living poised where Air meets Water, where Water meets Earth, where Earth meets Air. The Sun brings its Fire. Open your self and your heart and let Spirit flow in and you’ve got…a prayer. Magic. A sacred moment. Oneness with the divinity of creation, and the time and space to feel it, to be there in it.
When the Tominator and I planned our wedding, I had only one aspect that was non-negotiable – it had to be exactly at sunset. (Well, we could have chosen sunrise, but our guests would likely have been grouchy or absent.) I wanted to stand with him in that Space Between, feeling the pounding of his heart in my own ribcage, when the Sun ignites the fine line between day and night, and take it forward with us. I wanted us to have the endless choice of all the threads there are, to create the warm, rich tapestry of the life we weave together.
When we stand between any two points, whether real or theoretical, we are in a no-place. When we stand on a riverbank, we are between Earth and Water. When we stand on a cliff or a bridge, we are at the brink of Earth and Sky.
And between each conscious thought, there are infinitesimal moments of non-thought that shower possibility. Our consciousness is in a non-place where every possibility is potential. And until we move out of that Space Between and into the next moment, the next thought, all of those endless possibilities exist like Schrödinger’s cat, only a lot more poetically. In the midst of the science of physics there is the magic of mysticism.
It’s why I love the solstices and the equinoxes, exactly noon and exactly midnight; These are clear demarcations between the starting up and and the winding down. I love clocks that strike the hour. I know they are arbitrary marks on a made-up dial we invented as a way of fitting our lives to the celestial movements that rule our days and nights, our seasons and years and ages. But we are people, and we have to measure and follow and keep track and plan ahead and synchronize, and it’s as good a system as any, and it gives me that many more Spaces Between, so I like it for that reason alone.
The image of The Fool in the Tarot is, to me, an artist’s vision of the space between. A vagabond, he is dressed in rags and carries only his stick on his back. He stands poised to step off the cliff into – what? The Space Between is the vast unknown. It is the leap of faith. He looks like a beggar but to be that rich in trust for the Universe – no, he is wealthy. The Fool lives
in the space between.
Several years ago I had an animal totem reading done for me, similar to a tarot reading. The totem in my “above” position, the one that helps me keep my place in the Universe and guards me while I’m sleeping and in the Dreamtime, is Black Panther, who represents the leap of faith. What else is a leap of faith but a Space Between? It is being poised on the very tips of one’s toes with only the most tenuous of connections with terra firma, not quite in the air, but no longer on solid ground, on the exquisite precipice of a blind jump that can move in any direction, can land in any place – and then having the faith to do it, knowing that you will land where you are supposed to be.
The Space Between is that instant of absolute nothing that exists between one thought and the next. It is the moment of decision we don’t even recognize. A woman in line ahead of me has just snapped at me for no reason. I want to remember that rather than an insult, she has given me a gift: a Space Between. How will I use it? Will I use it for myself, to make my feelings better and my ego bigger, by snapping back and putting her in her place? (As if I can presume to know where “her place” is.) Or will I stop to consider that maybe she has worked all day with a migraine, maybe she is caring for her cancer-ridden mother, that she might be heartsick over a fight with her teenager? By taking a beat and letting myself use that Space Between for something good, I can choose to make what follows be for the benefit of someone else, compassion for a malady I will never know about, an act of kindness that advances us all even in its incalculable minuteness. Even the most ordinary moments can be gifts to myself. I can choose to act instead of reacting. I can follow a new and scary plan just this once, independent of all the times I’ve failed. Instead of indulging in the same old controverting, injurious habits or patterns of thinking, I can consciously move forward in a way that feeds my mind, my body, and my spirit with real nourishment instead of self-defeat.
Make no mistake. I am not perfect. I fail at this on a daily basis. I would like to do better.
The Space Between is endless potential. From this one tiny tick in the boundless timescape, this imperceptible moment when breath seems to hold forever, we can move in any direction, and set off chain reactions that can have wondrous outcomes. Does it even matter whether or not we know what those turn out to be?
The Space Between is the blank page, waiting for the story to uncurl like damp petals or clumsy new wings. Or, not as poetic but but every bit as lovely – waiting for the me I am to become the me I want to be.
I am the pen. I am the empty page.
I am the Space Between.
Photo credits, in order of appearance:
Girl Holding the Sunrise, Robert & Mihaela Vicol, public domain
The Fool, from the Rider-Waite Tarot. Pamela Coleman Smith, a 1909 card scanned by Holly Voley for the public domain, and retrieved from Sacred Texts.