Exploring the Rich Potential of Spaciousness

I was ready for some spaciousness…or so I thought.

Our long-awaited trip to the tranquil island of Folegandros, Greece, finally had arrived. This would be easy. A quick (and inexpensive) Volotea flight from Venice to Santorini, and then an hour by fast boat to Folegandros. We’d arrive, unplug, and fall into complete bliss while staring out into the vast expanse of the Aegean.

Yep, I had it all planned out. And then, like a drug addict who couldn’t really own up to his addictions, I was hit with the pain of withdrawal from constant doing and thinking. Talk about feeling slapped sideways.

A valuable wake-up call.

Consequently, during our first full day in this glorious island paradise, I was about to jump out of my skin. My personal throttle was stuck in high gear. And my mind was tackling a mess of thoughts at a velocity and ferocity that would leave Pac Man in the dust.

And then it hit me…I’d been filling up my life and distracting myself with constant busyness. When it came time to sit still, I didn’t know how. Well, not at the level being offered to me on this breathtaking island.

“Wherever You Go, There You Are.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Crap, I was busted. What was I to do? Jump into planning or doing something to distract myself? Run from being still and avoid inviting the uncertainty of spaciousness into my life?

Then I remembered something I’d recently read about not running from our discomfort and instead becoming curious about it, all while letting the “negative” feelings have some room to run their course. Okay, I can try this, I thought. And my dear mother’s words also reminded me, This too shall pass.

So I stayed with it. Or, to be more accurate, I rode it like a bucking bronco until the energy was spent. Allowing this to be without trying to fix it was NOT in my wheelhouse of abilities. My lifeline was returning my attention to the magnificent spaciousness of the cliffs and the sea around me. And then, gradually, I felt myself downshifting and relaxing. It took a full twenty-four hours but finally, spaciousness began to expand inside.

spaciousness, folegandros

Magnificence © 2017 Jed Smith

When we allow spaciousness in our lives, things happen.

Think about it, if we have so completely filled our lives to the brim with “stuff”, whether it’s unfettered accumulation of material things and experiences, or a controlling mind that fuels itself with even more thinking, there’s no room left for something new and unexpected to show up. How can magic happen?

I realize now I’ve given a lot of lip-service to the importance of spaciousness. Thank goodness this vacation helped me see just how little spaciousness I was allowing, and how uncomfortable I can be with not knowing all the answers.

“Nature abhors a vacuum.” – Aristotle

I love this quote. To me, it suggests that the universe is always waiting to assist when we are willing to get out of the way, and when we’re not in hyper-vigilant accumulation or distraction mode. In other words, make room for possibility.


A Flash of Brilliance © 2017 Jed Smith

In this post, I share with you a few images from my trip to Folegandros. I hope you’ll find them a worthy companion to these words. In my art and photography, I am drawn more and more to negative space, as the above image demonstrates. In an odd sort of way, it’s a bit of a self-portrait.

Maybe my art is pointing the way and telling me to relax into a life where everything isn’t neatly filled-in and managed. The big question, however, is can I live in the now without needing to pull the past or future into focus?

Spaciousness, Folegandros

Lighthouse © 2017 Jed Smith

We returned to Italy from seven spectacular days in Greece. I wanted to freeze-frame our time there and to bring it back with me. But I realize that was just an attempt to fill myself by clinging to a beautiful experience, instead of holding it lightly and being thankful. By looking over my shoulder longingly to this experience, maybe I was robbing myself of the possibilities of the present moment.

Travel lightly and relax into “what is”.

This is my prayer––that life will teach me, more and more, to let go and invite spaciousness into my life. Whenever I feel hard or constricted, I know I’m closing down and shutting myself off from the potential that awaits in the fertile soil of the vast unknown. I also know solutions to problems present themselves more readily when I surrender and allow room for answers to come. This includes making space for uncomfortable feelings to run their course. Otherwise they have the potential to stay locked up inside.

In closing, I share with you the following quote:

“Non-attachment is not the elimination of desire. It is the spaciousness to allow any quality of mind, any thought or feeling, to arise without closing around it, without eliminating the pure witness of being. It is an active receptivity to life.” -Stephen Levine

Spaciousness, Folegandros

Dusk © 2017 Jed Smith

If I’ve whetted your appetite, through these images, to visit Folegandros, I heartily encourage you to check out the best spot on the entire island––Anemomilos Apartments. You won’t find better views and you will be treated royally!


Anemomilos Apartments, Folegandros

Anemomilos Apartments, Folegandros

By |2019-01-19T22:01:24+01:00September 19th, 2017|Italy's Neighbors, Personal musings|8 Comments

About the Author:

I’m an American expat living in Italy!


  1. Douglas Wilson October 8, 2019 at 6:00 am - Reply

    I was the consummate planner. I was once accused by my bride I did not know how to be spontaneous. I did, too. Spontaneity was scheduled between 3 and 5 pm. But, I learned. My first experience in Italy was Roma. Historic? Yes. Beautiful? Yes. Relaxing? Uh… no. Then, something happened that has literally changed who I am. The second city on our 1st trip in Italy was Montepulciano. I will, as long as I have breath, never forget that first morning in Montepulciano. Dampness from an overnight rain shower. The local shop owners chatting about as they readied the businesses for the day. The best espresso I’ve ever had. My world came to a slow crawl. An amazing, enjoyably slow crawl. And, I realized I had been living wrong. And, since returning from that trip five years ago, I’ve dreamt about that day. This was the first year we’ve not returned to Italy. Our son’s wedding and ‘life’ interrupted our plans. But, not returning solidified the yearning in my soul to ‘be’ in Italy… not as a visitor, but as a resident. This, our stumbling across your site.

    I hate this interpretation of success social media and US culture has created. No one knows how to live or to enjoy life. We’re all too busy trying get the most ‘likes’ on our instagram post.

    I pray we are successful in making the leap. We’re certainly going to try. A dream without a plan stays a dream. It never approaches reality.

    • Jed October 16, 2019 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      Hi Douglas, Thanks for writing and for your beautifully-articulated reflections on your evolution to spontaneity. Every day in Italy is an opportunity for me to get out of the driver’s seat and allow things to unfold (I love your description of your morning in Montepulciano). My relationship with social media continues to shift and change. On one hand, it’s a great way to keep up with people thousands of miles away. But, I’ve ratcheted back significantly. It’s not dissimilar to observing people who come here are more in love with their selfies and proving they were here vs. really being present for the experience.
      Keep fueling your Italy dream!

  2. Linda September 19, 2017 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    Beautiful . My husband and I are headed to a small town in Chieti Provence, Italy next week. Your blog just put it all into perspective, cause I was thinking, what will I do in this small town of 600 peeps? Now I have my answer, just relax, breathe and enjoy the moments!!

    • Jed September 20, 2017 at 10:25 am - Reply

      Thanks, Linda! Buon viaggio!

  3. Bev September 19, 2017 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Great post! Greece will do that to you. 🙂

    • Jed September 20, 2017 at 10:23 am - Reply

      Glad you like, Bev! Hope you and Chris are well!

  4. Tammy September 19, 2017 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Ciao Jed. Missed you during this trip to Italy but am happy you enjoyed a wonderful time in Greece. Alla prossima.

    • Jed September 20, 2017 at 10:23 am - Reply

      Ciao, Tammy, Sorry we missed you, too. I know you’ll be back, so we’ll make up for lost time during your next trip! Please tell your beautiful mom hello for us!

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