The Spaces We Fill

When we have a blank canvas in front of us, the tendency is to fill it up with colors, lines, textures… anything to make the space feel beautiful, meaningful, or well, just to put something there. For the first time in a long time, my future is suddenly a wide open space. It’s as if for the last thirteen years I’ve been hurtling through outer space as part of a binary star system, in which two stars orbit a common center of mass. Whatever the future held, there would still be that one constant; each a shining light and companion to the other.

I’ve always joked that the tidiness or untidiness of my home is a direct reflection of my current state of mind. If my room is an explosion of clothing, if the dishes are left undone, and if the bed isn’t made, you can bet my schedule is crammed and I’m stressed to the gills. And the visual messiness of it all just makes everything ten times worse to come home to. On the flip side if things are neat and tidy to the point that I’m arranging a fresh bouquet of flowers “just so” and lint rolling that one part of the couch that the cats love to curl up on, wow, I’m probably really on top of everything and feeling pretty good about life. It’s not about being a neat freak, but it’s more about feeling put together enough that to even have the mental space, time, and capacity to tend to the unnecessary, but very pleasant and satisfying details pertaining to the space I occupy.

Presently half of my home is quite literally empty. At first I felt this urgency to refurnish it immediately, filling up the empty space with objects to feel somewhat whole again and make it feel like my very own. I curated numerous Pinterest boards with inspiration in a rainbow of pastels, and scoured Danish design shops for that perfect lamp in a particular shade of cornflower blue. How I would fill my home began to occupy my every thought until it all became too overwhelming. I have no idea what I want.

When I think of what I want to do in life, there are a million ideas I can come up with. I never felt held back in my marriage, though every choice was naturally made with consideration to another person. To suddenly feel untethered, and with the once-set future suddenly unknown, the possibilities are endless––maybe even exciting––and totally unsettling and overwhelming.

The thing is, I don’t have to change anything right this moment, which is a position I’m thankful to be in. Maybe the empty living/dining area with the wooden floor is a giant dance room for now. Perhaps I don’t uproot the current trajectory of my life because I’m already spinning way out of orbit, desperately seeking my center again (there’s probably a good dance analogy in there somewhere involving lots of pirouettes).

The canvas is blank, the rooms are empty, the future is unknown, and there is a hole in my heart. Rather than rush to fill those spaces again, perhaps it is okay to sit with them for now.

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Thanks for reading. If this resonated with you in some way, please consider buying me a coffee. If you look forward to these letters every week the way I look forward to writing them, consider supporting Mercury on the Run on a monthly basis with the “membership” option. The default is $5 per month, or about the cost of one shmancy coffee. I truly appreciate the support, and it makes writing this newsletter meaningful for me in more ways than one.



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The photo at the header was taken by Janzow Photography at the Kettle Moraine 100. Despite my run that day ending short with a disappointing DNF, I’m glad they captured this photo of me smiling in a very beautiful place. The wheels in my head are certainly turning, with thoughts of returning to the trails in Wisconsin one day.

Later this week I’ll be spending some much anticipated time on another certain trail. To be clear, it will only be a portion of this certain trail to get to know it a little better. I’ll give you a couple hints as to where – it spans the entire length of one state, it’s green, it’s long, and Cherry Garcia ice cream may be involved. More on that to come. ‘Til next week! ~Mercury

4 thoughts on “The Spaces We Fill

  1. Dear Mercury Liz

    Just as a point of reference I met you and Warren on the AT mm689.2 with a Milk shake and Subway sub on 621 near the Audie Murphy memorial. Having gone through a verify similar situation you brought something up I hope share somethings that will help!. The 1st one is a quote from one of my modern day heroes. Chuck Swindoll: “We cannot change the our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how I react to it.” It look like you heading in a beautiful way. Keep it up.
    The other thing I want to share is personal! As I went through my situation I was married at 18, had 3 children and a job I was cruising in with little to challenge me. I had 22 yr marriage ending and children in that crucial age of middle school and early high school. I had to wait! She didn’t know what she wanted and I am a long range planner and not that was all up in the air. After a short moment I realized that as I stated above I needed to react. I decided to pull an Elsa and let it go. I needed to do what I knew I could do. I worked on me! I plugged into my children. I set new Goals at work. I waited 19 months for her to decide she was going to go through with ending our marriage. What I found is “what I became in the wait was as important as what I waited for, now it became more important” Who I became during my wait transformed my life beyond what I could of hoped for. All three of my children wrote me notes over the next year of what they saw, I took me from good to great. I was promoted at work. 22 years later we are father / Children and best of friends. I am entering 20 years of marriage with a love of my life. I will be retiring in a few years with 40 yrs. worked and blessed more than I deserve. I let the wait do its work on me instead of defeating me. I allowed pain and loneliness to be only what it was and no more and channeled my focus on what I could pour into.
    What you become in your wait is as important as what you wait for. Allow it to do its work. Your trail magic friend Kelvin

    : Mercury on the Run
    Sent: Tuesday, June 29, 2021 4:00 PM
    To: Bergsten, Kelvin
    Subject: [New post] The Spaces We Fill

    Liz Anjos posted: ” When we have a blank canvas in front of us, the tendency is to fill it up with colors, lines, textures… anything to make the space feel beautiful, meaningful, or well, just to put something there. For the first time in a long time, my future is suddenl”

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your story Kelvin. I’m so glad that you didn’t let a really difficult thing like that defeat you and that you came out of it (what sounds like) a better and happier person. I really appreciated the trail magic last summer and I appreciate your encouraging words now. Thank you.

  2. Exactly! Don’t rush to do anything, especially any making any life altering decisions. It will all settle back down in time. When one door closes, another is sure to open in time.

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