In cities that team with people, there are always places that remain strangely empty. A vacant block where a building once stood; a car park out-of-hours; a long-forgotten space in a dead-end street; an empty children’s playground; an abandoned office; a boarded-up shop. While the rest of the city pushes outwards and upwards, these places languish half-forgotten, but giving us possibilities.
Eastern philosophy has long taught the value of ‘emptiness’, but the West has been slow to absorb such ideas. ‘Nature abhors a vacuum’, we are told. But our twenty-first century lives are filled to overflowing with sound, noise, images, movement and ideas, continually crowding-in on us. Even in our own homes we can’t escape the relentless stimuli from television, radio, internet, newspapers, advertising, neighbours.
But look carefully amongst the bustle of crowded cities and these underused and undervalued places can take on new importance—as may be seen as meditative places that can offer us a space for a few moments of contemplation.