This morning we were gathered around my sister’s table, everyone eating breakfast and/or engaged in his or her separate Apple product yet still managing to have some sort of human conversation.

We discussed turkey and shopping, gluten and diapers, cream cheese and lasagna. (Somehow it all seemed related at the time.) And as we started to discuss furniture and decor styles, we also talked about emptiness. Specifically, empty spaces. Everyone seemed to feel uncomfortable with the idea of empty spaces. They agreed that they’d rather, in their own home for instance, a space filled with furniture and “stuff” they didn’t love than an empty space.

The emptiness, they all agreed, made them feel depressed and sad and hopeless and, yes, empty.

I was reminded of my actions-turned-experiment in getting rid of my dining room furniture and leaving an empty space in the middle of my house for months. My kids, their friends and anyone who walked in felt uncomfortable and acted weird about it. They seemed concerned about me and sympathetic to whatever was “causing” the emptiness. They all asked when something was coming to fill the space.

In my mind, filling a room or a place solely for the sake of filling it is a form of denial. Of hiding. Of pretending. Like staying in an “OK” relationship or a dead-end job that lights you up approximately never. 

Settling for so-so is an epidemic: Nothing is immune from it, right down to our living rooms and dining rooms.

I try hard not to tell anyone else how (or how not) to live. Controlling can be a default of mine that I am working on being aware of and changing. So forgive me if  sound preachy here: Truth be told, If you want to fill space — in your head, in your home, in your life — with that which you do not love, that is your right and your choice. And I am not here to tell you how to change that or even that you should change that.

If you do make that choice, don’t change the story to fit the mediocrity. Don’t lie to yourself that everything is peachy. And when you wonder why it feels like something is missing, don’t B.S. yourself because you know exactly why.

Don’t confuse full-ness (the opposite of emptiness) with the truth. Empty is scary and can be nerve-wracking and at times begs for filling.

But empty is also as real a foundation for love as exists.