I collect blank books. They are available everywhere, and I love finding them on sale at discount places. These are the books you are supposed to use to write, draw, express yourself. I buy them because they look or feel right to me. I have recently tried to slow down, stop myself–but still, I pick them up from time to time. I like them for their potential, and I like them for their emptiness.
I bought those books to write in, but I hesitated to actually use them. I always felt that what I wrote had to be perfect, had to be worthy of the book itself. I learned, slowly and eventually, that no words are ever perfect, that emptiness has value for its own sake, and that the intersection of imperfection and emptiness defines growth. We grow from our imperfections, and the emptiness is the space toward which we grow. We will never be perfect, and we will never fill the space.
I’ve become a writer, published in a couple of local journals, and I use my computer to write. Occasionally I’ll take one of the blanks and start journalling, or take one on a trip to make a solid, real record of the events of the journey. But there are still many I can’t quite bring myself to write in. So the bookcase full of blank books is still about potential and emptiness. In the Tao te Ching, Lao-Tse says:
We join spokes to make a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.
We shape clay into a pot
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.
We hammer wood for a house
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.
We work with being
but non-being is what we use. (Mitchell, #11)
My many blank books remind me that non-being is what we use.