Searching For Space

Searching For Space



ERICA GRAGG

Space,ˈspās

1. The distance from other people or things that a person needs in order to remain comfortable.

2. The opportunity to assert or experience one's identity or needs freely.

3. An opportunity for privacy or time to oneself.

4. Largeness and extensiveness.

More and more, I find myself contemplating the idea of space: Physical space. Negative space. Personal space. Sacred space. And, most of all, spaciousness.

I’ve spent this summer combing New York’s Hudson Valley for the perfect place to call home—a place of elegance and coziness, for sitting still and socializing, for work and play; a place that draws me in and is a reflection of who I am.

For each of us, the concept of “home” is unique. Some love the coziness of a stone cottage, while others prefer the grandness of a mansion. Some find solace in the soothing sounds of the ocean’s waves, while others find comfort in the noises of the city. And, despite where our houses may physically be or what they may look like, it is often the comforts of tradition and family that make us feel most at home. 

As I have wandered down narrow side streets and hidden country lanes, climbed the steps of urban brownstones and meandered in and out of other people’s residences, searching for a space I can call my own, I have come to realize that I am actually searching for far more than just a place to live. I am searching for “spaciousness” in every sense of the word. But can a physical structure provide the inward spaciousness we so often crave and strive to find in our lives?

I suppose the answer is subjective and a bit more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.” But in my own experiences, my endless travels throughout the world and my most recent quest closer to home, I have noticed that the spaces to which I am most attracted are physically quite empty: Brick industrial warehouses that lend themselves to open floor plan lofts, rustic barns with high ceilings and simple yet elegant frames, art galleries such as Dia:Beacon in New York or The Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas —both crisp examples of profound minimalism. I am most comfortable in sparse, but giant Gothic cathedrals throughout Europe, open-air thatched roof huts in Cambodia and modern glass houses that blend the line between indoor and outdoor life.

And while many times I have become frustrated and disappointed this summer, the search for my new home has awakened me to something far more worthwhile than any four walls can provide. Yes, the emptiness and vastness of these physical spaces inspires a sense of spaciousness within me. Indeed, these spaces quiet my mind and spark creativity. But I cannot allow my inner happiness to be defined by where I dwell.

My center is within, always there for me to come back to regardless of where I sit or lay my head. This is the work I must do everyday to strive for spaciousness within, even in the midst of all the external distractions, gilded treasures and illusions. I suppose then I will have found the most sacred of spaces.

Are there any physical spaces in your world that evoke a sense of spaciousness within you? That inspire your creativity or quiet your mind?

photo credits: vaclav jirasek, salva lopez