In the Land of Invisibilia

In January 2015 National Public Radio launched Invisibilia (Latin for “all the invisible things”). The show explores the intangible forces that shape human behavior – things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.

When I heard promos for the show on NPR, it got me thinking.

Across time, I had written lines I thought spoke to “Invisibilia,” like: “The obvious is often camouflaged by its obviousness.”

Other efforts on my part tried to capture not just the presence but also the power of the invisible, such as, “It is the space between the bars that holds the tiger.”

Still further musings were seeking to capture the invisible sound visibly auditory: “It is the silence between the notes that makes the music.”

All of these thoughts borrowed on the Zen awakening that what we don’t see is not absent. Of course this also lead to issues of faith, both East and West, and brought me to this: “Just because we shut our eyes does not mean God’s gone into hiding.”

The first time I saw my daughter’s eyes, the first time I felt my son’s grasp, the actual empty physical space between us existed but did not exist as absence, it was cohesive. And across time, remains adhesive.

The first time I met the woman I love, nothing stood between us, and everything drew us together. The invisible was the staging ground, and the stage was set without which the actors could not, would not be.

Creativity is not a plan; it is an experience. Every time I sit down to write, I am counting on the blank page. And to address the blank page, I need to go blank. When I am in the Land of Invisibilia, the words are born as their surprise to me. And whether you are a painter, a dancer, or a composer the same quiet empty is foundational to whatever your craft or imagination are dreaming of building.

A lot of us think nothing is happening when nothing is happening. But everything is always happening. And our witness is not necessary for it to be fact of life. All gestation takes place in the hollow of a womb that is not hollow.

The challenge for all of us is pay attention to what we don’t see, don’t hear, don’t think in order that we might see, hear, and think better. I say better, because we’ll always miss a lot. But this way, maybe we’ll just miss a little less. And we won’t miss the boat now leaving with the love we haven’t met, the poem we haven’t heard, and the song we haven’t heard all calling to us from the Land of Invisibilia, inviting us to make a visit.

Noah benShea, Copyright 2015