I’ve been pondering an idea lately that what is “lost” does not actually cease to exist, but simply morphs into another form of equal (or perhaps greater) value. Of course this idea is not original, but is a basic principle of physics.
Definition of conservation of energy (Merriam Webster)
“a principle in physics: the total energy of an isolated system remains constant irrespective of whatever internal changes may take place with energy disappearing in one form reappearing in another”
But what if this principle translates beyond physical energy into the abstract realm of emotion and spirit as well?
Noticing “negative space” as I draw and paint certainly contributes to my ponderings. For example. sometimes while creating, I flip how I see. Instead of drawing a hand, I sketch the space between the fingers, or the space between a thumb and a chin. Sometimes seeing the space around what I want to draw allows me to more clearly see the form I plan to end up portraying.
I wonder sometimes if experiences of loss in life could be like this? We see and ache for what was lost… an injury, perhaps, that causes us to lose opportunities in an athletic endeavor. A child who endured trauma at birth and still bears the wounds. A loved one who dies. A child who leaves home. We see the the space that was once positive, now gone, now empty, now negative. But what if the space around what is “lost” is actually quite full of finding? What if we were to see not the black hole of something missing, but rather the space around it that defines the image God is actually bringing to the forefront?
To apply the principle of “conservation of energy,” what if what is “lost” – opportunity and dreams, physical experience of relationship, etc – what disappears, actually reappears in another form? What if, on a grander scale, life here is merely the negative space for the positive space we can’t see yet? What if all of our losing is merely the outline of the finding we will one day embrace?
As I painted this piece, “All That is Lost Will Be Restored,” the white forms came to represent the losing, the positive space now empty – the casting away, the offering, the absence. The darkness around the white forms emerged as my real focus, the subject I was truly drawing. The colors layered richer and deeper as I worked. The negative space around the “losing” became increasingly saturated with detail and presence, a statement of my conclusion, my steadfast hope and belief: one day, all that is lost will be restored.
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