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Friday, July 8, 2011

The gift of nothing

Nothing might be the most overlooked gift of all. Nothing is generally seen as having no substance: empty, void, hollow, without something. However, nothing can have substance of its own: it can actually be a blessing, especially in these days where our schedules are jam-packed, our closets are filled with wardrobes for various opportunities, and our time is scarce. Life has become so crowded, so full, so… overwhelming, and subconsciously, we keep filling it, because that’s what we have become accustomed to.

Daniel Quinn, in his book Ishmael, refers to Takers and Leavers as the two main cultures of humanity. Takers are those like you and me, who keep gathering and storing tangible and intangible things to no end: as large as houses, cars, careers and status, and as small as groceries, books, clothes, and tokens of appreciation such as awards, degrees, and certificates. Takers are always out for something. They cannot appreciate or understand the value of no-thing. Leavers are exactly the opposite. They take life as it comes, and accept every day as it manifests itself. They appreciate something and nothing, because they are aware that both are equally right. Leavers are a minority in our world today. They usually live in Natural Reservations - placed there by the Takers - or in other secluded areas such as interiors, near rivers, in forests, or mountains. Leavers appreciate good and bad, life and death, night and day: come what may. The major advantage Leavers have over Takers is greater peace of mind, because they understand the concept of yin and yang: their preferences are not as skewed as those of the Takers.

Fortunately, we all have the ability to contemplate, and change our perspectives where we realize their error. We can start applying moderation as a result of understanding our impermanence and the impermanence of everything else. And if we do it massively, it may even help restore some of the lost balance in the world! The awareness of impermanence can help us to realize that something is nice, but nothing is nice too. Nothing is just as much needed as something. Moments of doing nothing, getting nothing, chasing nothing, and desiring nothing are moments of sacred peace, which we will feel deep inside, if we care to go there. It's up to us. So, here's to the gift of nothing!

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