Sometimes the hardest thing to do is nothing. There is a page in Wreck This Journal that says, “Leave this page blank on purpose.” It’s driving me nuts.
Leave it blank? Why put it in the journal if it has no purpose? There’s nothing on the other side of the page, either! For a doer such as myself, this was difficult to accept. There I was with my tools of destruction at the ready and Keri Smith was asking me to leave them alone and do nothing. My muse was ready to pop a gasket!
My fingers twitched as I considered the blank page in front of me. I wanted to color in the letters – a pattern of green, blue, and purple – and I almost did it. Then, it occurred to me that I was looking at this all wrong. Instead of fighting the notion of nothing, I should be embracing it.
This is a big epiphany for a self-admitted busy body who has trouble letting an hour go by without filling it with some task, whether it be writing, creating, teaching, gardening, pondering, wondering, running, reading, watching movies, etc. If any moment is filled with nothing, I feel like I’ve wasted something I can’t get back. It took a stark page to get me to realize doing nothing is not the same as being lazy or wasting a moment.
Creativity isn’t about crossing things off a Wreck This Journal “to-do” list, but rather pitching the list altogether. A page left untouched leaves the idea of possibilities infinitely open. The same is true for an unfinished collage or a poem missing the last line. Possibilities are in plentiful supply if we slow down enough and regard them with patience. Doing nothing is sometimes better than writing a thousand lines of words just to hit a word count goal or adding something to a painting just to call it done. Sometimes doing nothing is what leads to the ultimate end.
My empty page still gives me an itch to color, bend, rip, or crumple, but it remains pristine. Meanwhile, my imagination continues to conjure new ways to wreck that page. Every time I come across these instructions, I am reminded that without an empty canvas we have no reason to fill it.
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