Sometimes I imagine a big white room, large not so much for its size but for its seeming lack of limitations. The room is empty and I’m alone, looking outward into its infinite landscape of possibility.
The room is still and quiet. There are no windows and no doors and no conceivable shape to it, no corners of any kind. It is allness and nothingness and inside I have no future and no past. I have no history, no baggage, no expectations and no responsibility. I have no age, no gender and no family tree. I have no memory of what has been and no ideas about what is to come. I just am.
The white room is a clean slate, a blank canvas. In it I am free to start fresh, to create without boundaries or fears or preconceptions or influence. I can create from some pure place, which is both inside myself and completely connected to something that has nothing to do with me, something much larger than myself.
This used to be a place that I wanted to escape to. It was a dream, something unattainable, a fantasy that would distract me momentarily from my troubles and frustrations. But, like anything we desire that is out of reach, it would inevitably create further frustration, making me long for something far away and impossible, instead of keeping me focused on the source of my discontent.
And then one day I had a conversation with a good friend.
He told me the story of a time in his life when he had been feeling a deep sadness, and found himself in a beautiful setting under the stars. He was alone perched on a rock near a beach, the salty breeze carrying jubilant sounds of a soirée in the distance. The recipe for joy was all around him, yet all he felt was the weight of the night sky, which in that moment reflected the emptiness he was feeling, searching for substance within and finding none.
That dark sky with its myriad stars, window to the universe, became the image of oppression, a representation of this inner void and the sadness it perpetuated in him.
At this point in the story, I already have goose bumps, every time he tells it.
But he went on to tell me about how this image evolved for him. How in time, and through conversations with people close to him, he befriended the night sky and its constellations. Instead of looking up into a galactic emptiness, he realized that the darkness was in fact full. Instead of a weight reflecting a lack, he began to see life and possibility. The void was simply in his mind. It was perception, but what was more, he realized that he could control it. He could fear the night sky, or he could embrace it.
He finally chose to embrace it.
As he shared his story, my white room spontaneously transformed from an unattainable fantasy into something completely tangible. It became an oasis; somewhere I could go at any time, from anywhere. It was no longer a dream or an escape, but a means to find calm, to regroup, to imagine, to find inspiration and peace. It became real, a real place inside myself.
This text is originally from my newsletter, Making Connections, and may have been modified for publication here.