14 Answers to What You Do With Emptiness

On a shady street in New York, there are 14 identical houses. Yellowed stone, three-story, three windows on each of the three stories, and a small front stoop that comes out from the house at a crisp 90 degree angle and drops down to the sidewalk at a crisp 45 degree angle.

Each stoop takes up about five feet on the sidewalk. In the middle of those five feet, there is a small box carved out of the yellowed stone. It's about the size and depth of a microwave. There are no plumbing pipes, electrical wiring or water spigots. It's emptiness.

So, what to do with it?

The shady street has 14 answers. The most common is nothing. Let leaf stems, spiderwebs, and sidewalk scraps live in it until some burst of spring cleaning.

The second most common answer is put bars up over it. Barricade it from dog noses and whatever the wind blows.

The least common answer, which only two of the 14 houses did, is to brush out the sidewalk scraps and put a planter of flowers in it. And those petals, those leaves, that living, growing stuff just pops out of the yellowed stone stoop like a ray of unexpected light.

So, there are the 14 identical houses with their 14 answers to what you do with emptiness. Nothing, barricade it up, or grow something in it.

And what's incredible is that somehow, on this shady street, the sunlight finds those flowers.

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