Do You Need a Second One?

Right when I moved into my new flat, I bought a bunch of hooks you can attach to the wall without screwing them in. They can hold towels, utensils, and other little bits and bobs.

After first stocking the kitchen, I attached one of them between the coffee machine and the sink so it could hold the small cloth I use to wipe the countertop. I placed the hook towards the left so I could attach another one next to it as soon as I knew it worked as intended.

Of course the next day went by, and then the next one, and the next one. Eventually, “attach hook” ended up on my to-do list, and there it stayed for weeks. I wanted to lump this tiny, five-minute task together with others, but every time, I ended up postponing the whole batch.

Soon, I started getting frustrated with myself. “Why do I keep putting this off? Let me just do it.” One day, I grabbed one of the hooks from the box, and as I turned it over in my hands, I asked myself a question I now realized I had asked myself many times before — each time I mentally approached this task, to be exact: “But what will I hang from it?”

Like lightning, it hit me: I don’t need another hook. There’s nothing else to hang. The cloth already has its place. I don’t need another one. There are no utensils to put there. Everything works perfectly as it is.

The only reason I went on this long detour is that there was enough space for two hooks — and so when I first imagined what my hook-situation would look like, I defaulted to two hooks.

Space is opportunity. Where there’s nothing, something might follow. Our brains are great at filling the void. They see a canvas, and they want to splash it with paint. But not all space must be filled in order to meet its potential. Letting space be space is also an opportunity.

Nothingness is not empty. It can give us calm. Room to think. Freedom to breathe. If we smother space without blinking, we shut the door to those benefits — and we might not realize we’ve ruined our kitchen wall until we’ve plastered it with hooks from which we have nothing to hang.

Every item you can buy one of, you could also buy two. But do you need a second one? Or would you prefer a little bit of extra space? Think before you buy, and remember: If it’s not annoying, it probably doesn’t need to be fixed.