This morning, I found myself with an unexpected Sunday home alone. No kids, no adults, no meetings, no travel. My day was a blank slate, a gift of time.
As I looked into the opportunity of the day, I found myself consciously resisting the urge to fill the space, in spite of litanies of work and domestic duties and even reaching out to others that I could have done.
It has been restorative, and it also has me considering all of the blank slates in our lives. We have the ability to realize these canvases for rest, reflection, and creation. But we have become conditioned to fill each gap, to turn to our phone screens in moments of silence, to start the next thing.
It has taken a lot of self-work to get to this place, where I can make a conscious choice to hit the pause button when I see it. That said, I am also using part of today’s canvas to create.
Humans are creators by our very nature. Our need to express ourselves, to explore ideas, to find ways to unite and understand and listen and learn: these need tending. They need a canvas.
However, blank canvases can also be overwhelming. (This overwhelm is often part of why art directors supply storyboards to artists, along with a means to jumpstart a conversation around finding a shared vision.) Facing a silent moment, a blank page, an empty score, an unscheduled day: these all have the power to help us turn inward.
If you aren’t in a place of comfort or familiarity with that source—your inner self—then a blank slate can be unnerving. But it can also be the perfect and same space to start to know yourself a little better. And that is an excellent creative space to explore.
Whatever your means of expression and rest look like, and wherever you are along your journey of personal evolution, I encourage you to seek out these moments. We don’t need entire days as a canvas—but we do need to start breaking the habit of reflexively filling free moments with things that aren’t our true mediums. It’s in those moments that we can reconnect with our own humanity. And in doing that, we can better connect with others.
P.S. I would love to know: Are you actively resisting the urge to escape into distraction rather than reflection or creation? Where are you finding or protecting moments that feed your creativity? Do you recognize blank slates?