We are one week into the new year. I am reading so much everywhere about decluttering and organizing. Goodness knows, I've done lots of that. My over stuffed refrigerator is back to normal. The pantry is cleaner than it's been in ages. You can see the kitchen countertops. Well, at least there is some empty space. We have put away the decorations. Hauled out the tree. (Our first artificial one, so it got hauled to the barn.) Taken all the boxes to recycling.
But I've taken a bigger step and made space in my life. At the end 2015, I gave up an activity that I loved. I bowed out of a group that I had created. For years, I led a senior adult ukulele band that grew from 5 people who had just learned to play, to 25 accomplished musicians who were in constant demand and entertained thousands. I led the band for a final time just before Christmas—a huge event in a convention center. It went really well. And then I handed the reins over to new leadership.
How hard it was to say goodbye to the people and to the activity. It has filled much of my calendar, my thoughts, and my life for years. But a very wise couple who were in that original five band members—people I am lucky to call friends—have a life "rule." They do one new thing every year. Something completely new to them. They are in their 80s now. Playing the ukulele was their new thing back 2007 when the band started. They meant to stay with us a year. But it was so much fun that they played in the band for five or six years.
None of us could understand how they could do it when they announced they were leaving the band. Or, why they were doing it. I certainly didn't understand. But now I do. They told me that there was not enough time to do new things if they kept up all of the old things. Even when the old activities were good ones.
"Music is the space between the notes. It’s not the notes you play; it’s the notes you don’t play." ~ Miles Davis
So, this year I'm working on making space. Space in my house. Space in my life. Breathing room. There can't be new wonderful things unless I part with old wonderful things.
Yesterday at our knitting group, it was more low-key than usual. And everyone commented at one time or another how glad they were for the quiet. It is in that quiet, in the empty spaces, in the breathing room, that we can see and hear and do what is important. It's awfully easy to fill up every part of our lives with "stuff." Possessions. Activities. Electronic devices. Social media. Television. Stuff.
I don't want my days to be so full that I miss the good stuff. I don't want to be too busy to see the little miracles that happen every day right in front of me. I want to spend enough time with my grandchildren that some day they will talk about how they loved spending time with Mimi.
Miles Davis borrowed that quote above from Claude Debussy who only said the first sentence. They both understood. We need the silence to frame the beautiful notes. We don't fully appreciate the glorious sunrises without noticing the bare sky that is outside my window this morning. We need space.