In one of my previous blog posts I discussed positive and negative space as the relationship between them is a key part of many compositions (see Notes on Composition I). In this post I would like to discuss how our lives can mirror this balance between the positive and the negative. In photography positive and negative space must exist in balance - I suggest that in our lives positive and negative time must exist in balance.
I'm not a full-time photographer or even a semi-professional one (at least not yet anyway).
Recently I was thinking about how I structure my time and I was thinking about some of the things that I do. I noticed that despite the many myriad things competing for my attention (work, family, housework, worrying about things, teaching myself to get better at things and so on) I noticed that for a long time now I have always felt the need for 'down time'. I found that it's important to have down time no matter what else was going on. I was not simply a human source of energy that could be put to work indefinitely but rather I needed time to utilise on my own terms.
Everyone understands the need for physical down time, this is obvious to most of us and if we were to ignore this need our body would eventually correct the imbalance all by itself. I suggest that we also need mental down time - I feel that this is necessary to maintain balance mentally.
This balance is partially a matter of control (wrestling it away from daily life with it's inexorable momentum - back to myself) and partially one of the need for calm. This calm must counter the normal energy of my life - my profession, relationships, getting better at things and so on. It's not that I have an issue with my life, it's the life I chose and it's what I want and value but all things must exist in balance.
So I propose that we all need negative time to balance the positive time of life. Curiously, for some reason there are few words in our everyday language that allows us to express this need for balance and calm.
What we do with this time is a personal matter. For me it usually is a matter of listening to music, often minimal guitar or piano compositions. My passion for photography (travel, shooting and processing) is essentially a negative time activity. Lately, I use this time to write these blog posts.