Part of the appeal of the recent pictures of Mars may be the emptiness. No people. No buildings. Just rocks and dirt. It looks a bit like New Mexico. I’m fortunate to have access to open space, places where I can run alone and in silence.
My yoga teacher often guides savasana by reminding us to enter the spaces between the thoughts. One method of meditation is to attend not only to the breath but to the space between, the unforced transitional pause that’s neither inhalation nor exhalation. Likewise, there are spaces—small but deep—that are neither one thought nor the next.
When the to-do list is long and the calendar is full, spaciousness is still possible. The space between.
I’m at a point in my work in progress (Mae Martin Mysteries book eight) where my protagonist feels compelled to both help and confront the antagonist—a person who has wronged her and done even greater wrongs to people she cares about. Then the antagonist, through actions that karmically earned a disaster, is in crisis. Perhaps there’s an ideal path Mae could take, but can she see it? As the author, do I want her to?
In this book, Mae is taking a college course on Eastern Philosophy. She’s doing her best as a beginner to explore the wisdom of the Buddha. The antagonist’s brother and his roommate are dedicated yogis, not just in asana practice but in attempting to live the philosophy. Mae’s summer house guest is an Apache teenager who is training to become a medicine man. In the scene I’m working on, these well meaning, spiritually aware young people are in a situation where the right action is hard to find. Hard to agree on. Is there room for compassion and outrage at the same time in the same heart? At thirty, Mae is the oldest of the group. She’s likely to mess up. I was not very wise at thirty, myself. Wiser than I was in my teens or twenties, but I’d be making a mistake to portray her with the wisdom of an elder.
I’d also be making a mistake if my characters’ errors are unsympathetic. I have to write this so the reader can feel the struggle. It’s not easy to love your enemies.