The Space Between: A Meditation
My brain works in spurts: There are two hemispheres and a space between. The space between is filled with synapses, junctions that jump from nerve impulse to an unknown landing space. The space between is the vulnerable sweet spot of juicy possibility. The space between is a chasm, and beautiful, but how we land is entirely up to us.
Yesterday, in the strange perfection that is the way of accidents, I knocked the nerve in my right elbow against a clapper of a doorknob, clanging the humerous with as much unintended force as a schoolboy ringing the village bell in a black and white Russian movie.
The immutable laws of time bend during events of chance—time invariably slows down as you watch an accident unfold. So I held my hand up and watched the incredible electricity come. Time allowed me to suspend my judgment in the space between the moment my body registered the event, and the reaction of my mind. In a small, but large, space I drew a breath and observed my senses.
There was shocking power—my nerves surged like a lightning bolt. I wanted to label it “pain,” to say “OW!,”—But it wasn’t pain, exactly, though uncomfortable. It was intensity. My body was an electrical conduit.
I waited in that threshold space. While I waited, teenagers slept more than ever. Puppies rested near fireplaces. Artists sketched, writers jotted down notes, musicians practiced their scales, and bakers let the bread rise.
My left brain turned to biology. I learned that the humerous, the “funny bone” is attached to the ulnar nerve, which neurologically connects the elbow to the bottom half of your hand. The ulnar nerve enters the spinal column at the top, near the base of the brain stem. The brain sends more of its mental energy through the ulnar nerve than any other nerve. Your brain is quite intimately connected to your hands.
The hollow of time between pain and acceptance, the start and the finish, the brain and the synapse, the envelope between us and the letter. The ocean between sisters, the white that cools colors, the curtain cutting the stage. The space in the bubbles, and the bell, the bursting space between the yolk and the shell. The room of womanly history, where I braille the velvet yellow wallpaper.
The right side of the body is closely connected to the left side of the brain, which contains more active functions. Metaphysically, energy is transmitted outwards along the ulnar nerve, through the right hand, as it flows along the “active” pathways through the neurological system. If brain energy is transmitted outwards through the neurological system, and hitting your funny bone sends more mental impulses than usual, it would seem I had set off a huge active, mental energy within myself by hitting my humerous. What was I to do with this electrical energy?
And so…I entered the vestibule, the portal, the wormhole, the spaces of the openings between the carriages of a passing train. I stepped inside the womb, the circle, the spaceship, the time capsule, the seed, the eye of the storm. I slipped between the rub of the finger and the thumb, the between space of speaking in tongues, the empty space betwixt the twitching channel for angels and beings between our seeings. Spaces.
The space between a cold spirit and the prickle of my skin, the dilate of my eyes, and the tug of my hair strand. The space between heavy words ballooned in a pop above my head, and when I say them true and well, without malice I know they’re not my maybes anymore. They’re where I have landed. But the space calls me back and hurtful word arrows slow before they reach me, and sharp objects are not closer than they appear, they’re not even here.
Spaces. They lie between us.
So I’ll fill those spaces with silent love, lay my body down as a bridge for others of importance to clamber over the chasm, to fill the space between us, until it is full—it is surging with the
Spaces. They fill with what I bring. I’ll become a better space-between-us holder, a magnetic inductor of a life filled with meaning. And what is the meaning of this?
When life knocks on my funny bone, when I dance with the jingle of electrical tingles in the space of a lightning bolt, I’ll become a conductor of control, without controlling a thing. It’s not pain, it’s sensation, inhalation, penetration, alchemization.
It’s the space between the strike of a nerve and the strike of solid gold.
Spacy Thoughts: A Mythology
I’m tired of really tight spaces, and super strict schedules–like subways, meetings, elevators, deadlines, rush hour traffic and crowded offices where cubicle walls separate everyone; they’re divided but still share the same space.
Not for me–I want to spreeeead.
I’m gonna space out. I’m gonna be a space fan and journey safely, man. I’m gonna give lots of space between me and the meanies, the baddies and the shallow waters. I want to pick my way carefully, choose each stone step in the riverbed. Not run around like a chicken. I’m gonna find empty pockets of un-structured time, where I can sit and think for hours—and be fine. Or I’m gonna listen—to a stranger’s story (only the ones of value, please.) and he’ll tell me the magic while people stare at us and wonder if I need rescuing.
No, give us some space, please.
I want to ponder over things and fondle them in my brain. I want to recall tales of Charlemagne and that Viking king; I want to savor gratitude; re-play synchronisticity; re- hear farewell words– “Safe journey space fans, wherever you are.”
I’m a space fan, wherever I am.
While I’m traveling, the best thing is that wide open space in front of me. At Safeway, if it isn’t the right day I’ll probably give you a wide berth, and at parties I’m pretty lovely for an hour and a half max, but the drinking days must definitely be spaced out. When we talk if the long spaces between our thoughts are as comfortable as pillows, then I know we are closer than if we pulled the conversation blanket too tight.
In response to difficult messages. I take my time, and time my space. I won’t get in your face. If you get in mine, I’ll decline, but I’ll stand straight like a tower. If I start to cower, I’ll stretch and bring oxygen—my body needs the cushion of those spaces between.
In the space of time, I remember I needn’t fear. I labeled my actions as wrong—I didn’t feel my own—I judged with measurements that were passed down with persistence.
Space gives you 20/20 vision.
I want to be available for the kitty to sleep on my lap, free for the child to take a leap, here for the partner to tell me his dreams. To know hello and goodbye as auspicious. I’ll take a precious baby for a spell, the holder of dreams with a soft spot of gentle smell. Here. In the gift of space between you and me. It’s called the present for a reason.
I want space.
I want time to remember I love you, when you’re gone. I want the vacuum that allows daydreams to turn on. I want to learn the language of my body, my dog and my song. If you have a deadline, that fine—just don’t make it mine. I’m free from measurements, comparatives, imperatives and other people’s narratives. Hands off, that’s my biz-ness.
If I’m wise enough to take that space…
Give it to the Galactic Plain. Grab my fear and spin it around again, and it’ll get dizzy, fall, and space out. Unreachable by a telescope or barometer. The fear will spread sooo thin, you won’t be able to smell it much more.
Then there will be plenty of space between my fear, and our love. There will then be you and me, my love.
With no space between us.
Elizabeth Hellstern is a writer and creator. She is a graduate from the MFA in Creative Writing program at Northern Arizona University. Her multi-genre work is accepted for publication in literary journals such as Hotel Amerika, Blotterature Literary Magazine, and Flint Literary Magazine. Her essay “This Weather Report Brought to You by Autism” was published in The Narrow Chimney Reader: Volume 1. She enjoys working on her art installation the Telepoem Booth, where members of the public can dial-a-poem on a rotary phone in a 1970s style phonebooth (TelepoemBooth.com.)