The themes of negative space, grey area, and the beauty of imperfection have been reappearing in my life lately. Blurred areas where it isn’t black or white or said or pretty or really even understood, keep drawing me in, whether through my current time off between movies, the need to infer rather than tell in my flash fiction class, the metal scraps left behind from jewelry making, or the book sitting on my coffee table, “wabi sabi: the japanese art of impermanence”, by Andrew Juniper. Each has led me somewhere totally different than I thought I wanted to go when setting out and it’s only now that I’m beginning to realize the grey and the negative were probably the point all along, it just took me a minute to realize.
Frequently when I take time off between movies, I feel somewhat aimless and ungrounded, as if I’m on vacation, fun, but always aware there is an end in sight. But, this time, I’ve begun to switch my thinking. Maybe movies are the negative space, serving to support my writing, reading, traveling, blogging, jewelry making, hiking, cooking, and learning adventures. Maybe the space I’m in now is enough and should be viewed as important, necessary, and productive, if not more so, as the time I spend on set.
I began my most recent foray into flash fiction on Wednesday night, with the great teacher Meg Tuitte, and was reminded again of the importance of grey area in this kind of writing. With most flash pieces being under 1000 words, it is necessary to jump into the middle of a story and trust your audience to keep up. Without time to give a background on each character and then curve slowly towards the climax, one sentence might have to do the trick. It’s a great exercise on being clear and concise.
Likewise, in the small metals class I’m taking at Meltdown Studio, in Albuquerque, I began by making a brass cuff. When I didn’t like that, I stamped out a bunch of shapes with the idea to make charms for a necklace. And, in the end, it was the rectangles with shapes missing that were my favorite. Negative space. (The words happen to say “she jumped out of the boat”, a little reminder to myself that once out, it’s almost impossible to go back in:)
And then, last night, I just happened to pick up a book that’s been on my shelf for years, but that I’d never read. Though only at the very beginning of Andrew Juniper’s “wabi sabi- the japanese art of impermanence”, I was drawn in with this idea, “the Japanese were to become masters of space, and have throughout their long artistic history stressed the importance of space or nothingness as a juxtaposition to things that presently exist”(p 9). I love the idea that that space is just as important as the existing object or idea.
I am reminded of an interview I heard with Bill Gates on NPR, though not sure on which show. They were discussing the possibility that Gates real legacy could end up being The Gates Foundation and all that it has been able to do around the world, rather than Microsoft, though that too helped change the world. You just never know when this will lead to that and then to that. The thing you thought was the goal could end up being a mere stepping stone to something so big and amazing, your little brain couldn’t even fathom it back then.
As I think about all of this and as examples keep popping up in my life, I am reminded to enjoy the ride. Not to be cliche, but it really is all about the journey. The grey negative inbetween might end up being the point in the end, so why not let go of some perceived goal, success, point in the future, just enjoy, and see where it leads?