The Spacious: Complete and Bright

Carin Rodenborn eavesdrops on conversations between interior and exterior worlds by contemplating thresholds as metaphorical sites.

Our windowsills are dirty. Very dirty. No matter how often I scrub them down, they gather the earth back up on their ledges within a day or two. This is the way of the garden apartment in a climate (and an overheated building in winter) where windows are left open nearly year round. The outside and the inside are always talking to each other.

I have become curious about, or rather obsessed with, this relationship, this talking back and forth between the interior (of nest and body) and the exterior (of the world). I have been percolating with ideas about how I might be able to carefully curate and clean up (read: heal) the interior to reflect skies as blue as hell on the exterior. Our little one bedroom apartment has become the testing ground for manifesting such things. My studio is next.

Space for space.

Space inside and outside of space.



Of course, there is the ancient Chinese philosophy and practice of feng shui to consider, so I bought a stack of feng shui books. Most of them are not very good, and that is too bad. The practice clearly has cred.

This is not from one of those books, but rather I found this in a book I borrowed from my acupuncturist while trying to pay attention and keep my eyes and ears and mingling mind piqued. It comes from Nourishing the Essence of Life: The Outer, Inner and Secret Teachings of Taoism by Eva Wong, who coincidentally is also the author of a couple feng shui books, though I did not know that when I borrowed this one. This particular lesson in the first section, “The Mysteries of the Tao”, got stuck in a sunny little corner of my brain for weeks:

19. Completeness and Brightness

If you focus solely on the inside, you will neglect the outside. If you focus entirely on the outside, you will neglect the inside. This is not the way of the Tao. What does it mean to be complete and bright? It means that there is no difference between the outside and the inside. Outside and inside exist only because form exists. When form is absent, function can be manifested. The way of the sage is circular; therefore he leaves no trace in the world.


I read the entire book as if it was an instructional poem because it was the only way I could do it without having to read each paragraph three times before moving onto the next and still not knowing what I had just read. In the lesson on completeness and brightness though, I got it, I get it, at least up until the last two sentences. That is where it gets fuzzy, and that is where I think the light bulb has the potential to shine bright if I can find the light switch. Or maybe I don’t really need to flip that switch?




I am stumbling down the hall in the middle of the night, up to pee, feeling around on the wall, looking for that switch. I half wake to knowing exactly where I am the whole time, and I realize if I turn the light on I will lose my emerging night vision that tells me exactly where to go. The quiet middle of the night space of knowing.

With this in mind and to make a dent in this experiment, I decide to rely on installation logic. Installation logic is knowing exactly where to hang that painting without using the 58” hanging rule. Installation logic is setting the table beautifully and hosting a rowdy dinner party. Installation logic is unpacking and arranging the books with surprising satiation and pleasure. In other words: intuition and trust.

My intuition tells me the first site within the site to address is the threshold. This is the location of leaving and entering, the and that joins inside/outside. The door is and. The door is key. And the next site or sites I contemplate are the windowsills. These are a more subtle form of that and.




The little shop where I buy our old shepherd his food sells crystals. Dog food, poop bags, and crystals. I love this shop. I have acquired the habit of buying a couple crystals every time I run the dog food errand. The excitement of a new, very affordable, sparkly rock totally softens the sticker shock, every time, of the big bag of pellets.

Crystals reflect energy. Crystals are liaisons. Crystals can be your welcome committee. Which is why they are perfect for thresholds.

So this is what I do. This is what you could do too.

Place a clear quartz crystal, the popular and pretty one, by your front door. If there is no surface available to rest your crystal on, hang it from a piece of leftover yarn from your knitting bag. Or a shoelace from your favorite shoe. Or a string of holiday lights right off the tree. Carefully arrange, using your best installation logic, with casual precision, a collection of small crystals on windowsills throughout your home or studio. Stack them up, line them up, plant them in plants. Name your intentions. Bless them.

Certainly there is more to do. This is just one way to start. This is just one way to ask how I might be complete and bright.






All images provided by the author.