Romancing Nothingness

The journey from a blank canvas to a masterpiece.

Whether you are starting afresh, creating something entirely new, thinking newly about something, or at the other end of the line feeling overwhelmed with a concept/possibility there are so many situations in which we stumble into this state of ‘a blank canvas’. Sometimes I can’t help but feel the ‘blank canvas’ is as romantic as the end state of the painted canvas. ‘The blank canvas’ is a perfect metaphor for the state of nothingness and each of us experience and deal with it in our own unique ways

The ‘blank canvas’ is really meant very broadly and it could be to convey the nothingness of just about any situations

  • Nothingness of a Sunday. We often run into that Sunday with no plans
  • The blank sheet of paper before you write your next essay
  • Writing a new piece of software
  • Planning your next trip
  • Hacking a new culinary dish, given the limited ingredients
  • The state of being at cross-roads in you career
  • You get the point.

This blank canvas can take any shape, any form. Any form you want. Your mind takes a an exploratory plunge deciding on what you’d like to do with it. Don’t you think? While the human mind while has an idea of the end-state is often surprised with the form that nothingness transforms into. While we can easily associate this with painters, singers, composers, artists but it is equally true and applicable with folks who involve in the left brained activities, the mathematicians, software programmers, the scientists. Actually you don’t need to map this to the left-brained or right brained categories of people just look inside, each one of us in our own situation experience nothingness.

It is how you choose to deal with nothingness speaks great volumes of your mettle and indicates your grit to deal with anything in life. That state of nothingness is almost like a micro-big bang moment which ignites the start of something (and possibly big). After having spoken to a great number of professional folks, sports players & coaches, painters, that I have come across in my everyday life, I have slowly started to see a pattern of how to handle nothingness. The following is a broad framework

Realize you are in nothingness

Many folks don’t seem to realize what this state of nothingness is. Often we are distracted with a clutter and it makes it impossible for us to realize it. Maybe you have a project that you have been meaning to work on but are often distracted with other urgent and important things that come your way making you never to realize the state of nothingness until it becomes an emergency for that task. Don’t wait for it. The realization helps you picture the end-state or outcome and often lets your intuition play a good part next

Picture it your mind first

It is all where it starts first. Whether you are about to get some paint strokes on the canvas or about to punch into your weight training set. You picture what you want (your nothingness) to take shape into. There is great deal of literature on this subject. We use varying thinking patterns diverging, converging think fast and slow our mind somehow naturally knows how to deal with this phase given our situations. It boosts so much positivity almost making you capable of executing the task you are on

Build your focus

Your mind naturally puts its past experience and knows what things to focus on. Say you are about to go into your next set of benchpress in your work out routine. In this context, the blank canvas is trying to crack that next personal record. Your mind and brain automatically knows what things to build focus on, whether it is breathing, the grip or whatever. Your mind just knows it. Tap into the power of your mind and just focus. You will realize it becomes so much easier after you have romanticized nothingness before.

Execute with clarity (and urgency)

It is only natural that you get this sense of clarity once you have gone through nothingness (divergence) and focus (convergence). When executing something with focus and clarity you will realize the outcome is naturally occurring and the whole universe is conspiring for realizing the desired outcome. Should anything require tweaks, you get into this state of knowing the work-arounds effectively to reach the ends state. It just works.

All in all, I cant help but reinforce the importance of nothingness and having the cognizance of dealing with it in a right way. If you were to truly experience nothingness, you have to let go your rational self which is weighing in an opinion on every single thing related or un-related. In so many ways you have to learn to loose your own self to experience nothingness. That moment starts a chain of events where you involve your intuition more than your rationale. And down the chain obviously end up using your mind, heart, left brain, right brain or anything that is required for your context. That is the journey for converting the blank canvas into anything that you want! And because we irrationally value our labour we end up treating most of our creations as masterpieces.

If you deal with nothingness differently, do share your thoughts below.