Josh Waitzkin, the famed chess prodigy, spoke about the importance of cultivating empty space. He learned this importance when he learned chess from Bobby Fischer. He's another famed chess player, obviously. Josh speaks about knowing how to utilize the empty spaces on the chess board.
It seems too common in life that I find myself drawn to noise. Fear of missing out. Everyone wants to be where the noise is. It's like staring only where the chess pieces are. Ignoring the space available. The space that can become your advantage.
I sit here in a coffee shop next to St. Lawrence Market in Toronto. It was empty when I sat here. Just me and the baristas. Thankfully I had a spot but I was hoping there would be a bit of a ruckus. I like crowded coffee shops.
Yet there was a calm. The music reminded me of spring. I scheduled to work on my podcast here but I couldn't help but want to appreciate this stillness.
Then people trickled in.
An elderly lady sat by the window with her latte and oatmeal cookie. Alone. But enjoying her small pleasure.
Then behind her sat a mother with a new born. The baby couldn't be more than 3 months old. I don't have a soft spot for children but I could appreciate the delicateness of his or her face.
The shop has filled up by now.
A father and son walk in. The son is young. Probably under 7.
There are no more seats by the window. The son innocently goes and sits on the seat across the elderly lady with the oatmeal cookie. She smiles. He's shy. She says something to him. I can't hear it but the boy smiles. The new mother with the newborn in the table behind them laughs too.
I don't know what it is but it's so beautiful. It's a sight I would've missed if I had started my hourly focus sessions.
Seeing that sight, I felt a sudden urge to cry. I wish I did. There is a kind of relief in that act.
It's life in action. Is this what I so feared in not continuing with joining the workforce again? It all seems a rather minuscule problem.
That empty space in life. Learning to embrace it and even cultivate it seems to be what's missing in people's lives. The fear of not missing out on anything is actually making people miss out on living their own lives.