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16th October

The hidden promise of emptiness

Not too long ago, when I had finished one piece and prepared to start the next, facing an empty page would cause a certain disquiet. I felt butterflies in my stomach. What if I cannot think of anything to write about? What if I’ve said all I have to say?

Or even worse, what if I do know what to write about, but somehow cannot find the right words?


Lately, however, the butterflies have vanished and I actually look forward to an empty page. I now see it differently, not as a task to be undertaken and therefore a burden but rather as an adventure in which I look forward to what I’ll encounter. The story is already there, I just have to reveal it.


It’s like the drawing book I received when I was about eight, the pages seemed completely blank, but when I stroked a wetted brush over the paper, colored drawings would emerge.

I know now that the idea that there is unrealised potential in what seems empty is not limited to my writing, but extends to my daily life as well.


During the months of severe restrictions because of the pandemic, planning was useless. There was no other option than to live by the day. The future felt like an empty page and I was surprised that, rather than disturbing me, this confinement gave me a sense of tranquillity.

I wasn’t pulled away by thoughts about events to organize, trips to plan, speeches to prepare, so I could be where I was.


Gradually, the habit of being in the moment formed, if only through lack of an alternative.

Much sooner than I expected, I got used to not knowing what will happen tomorrow, next week, next year. In fact, not knowing starts to feel perfectly natural. In the end, what is there to do in a life where everything has already been fixed? What can I write on a page that is already filled with words?


The hidden promise of emptiness has instilled a calm in me that I had longed for my whole life, but was never able to achieve. With that same equanimity I sit behind my computer today and write. Something has indeed changed in me.

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