Are you a bookworm like me? Our family is full of avid readers and books populate every region of our house. Books have even inspired some Halloween costumes. We devour books of every flavor and struggle to put them down for mealtimes or to turn out the lights at night. When we settle into the couch together with our favorite books, we focus on the words. We dive into plot lines, soaking up the 12-point font as quickly as we can.
What if we paid attention to the margins as much as the parade of words lining themselves into sentences and adorning themselves with perky punctuation? What if we tuned into the space surrounding those sentences that are building themselves into paragraph blocks?
Our eyes fly from the bottom of one page over the valley of the spine and onto the top of the following page without a second glance. We turn page after page to catch the next stream of letters without appreciation for the blank space that provides a landing spot for our greedy fingers.
Yet…what if that margin was not there? Letters would fuse into unintelligible gobbledygook. We wouldn’t know where one word stops and another launches. Clever ideas and witty phrases would merge into an alphabet hodgepodge, lost in a sea of black type. That overlooked w h i t e s p a c e provides a backdrop for those colorful characters that tell our beloved stories. Without margins and whitespace, it’s just a blur of ink on some crisp paper bound together and tucked into a colorful jacket.
the whitespace that frames
the text of our lives.
Without margin we would merge into each other and all over the place. Margin helps provide boundaries in the messiness of life. Margin gives us a defined perimeter — a pause before we turn toward our next activity. We often don’t stop to consider how much —or how little— margin we actually have. Our borders get blurry sometimes.
Margin is the “amount by which a thing is won or falls short” or the “amount of something included so as to be sure of success or safety.” It’s a cushion to lean into. How often do we hurtle from one thing to another with little margin for error? Margin can make the difference between success or failure. It can tip the balance toward a more favorable outcome.
Our personal margin varies throughout different phases of our lives. In some busy seasons, our lives might feel like a well-worn novel full of adventure and action. The pace is fast and furious. We’re caught up in drama and focused on the end result. Our margins feel cramped and narrow.
During slower seasons or treasured vacation getaways, we may have more “picture book” moments. We have time to enjoy the artistic balance between witty rhymes and colorful illustrations in our stories. In the lull of leisure, our margin expands and the beat of our storyline becomes more vibrant.
Later in life, we may develop a large-print perspective: we discover more space around words and appreciate the friendliness of a wider margin that gives us more time to reflect on our story…or to listen more closely to someone else’s.
Whatever our season, can we pause to embrace margin — to acknowledge its protective features?
Margin provides us with a soft buffer against the significant events and plot twists of life. It gives us some recovery time to process our stories.
Every little bookworm could benefit from that, don’t you think?