When you sit down to learn Japanese Calligraphy, you start like anyone would, by copying a characters. And, like everyone, you flounder and your first character looks terrible.
Your teacher waits for you to feel frustrated, as attempt after attempt winds up crumpled on the floor, until they finally lets you in on a little secret… Make the white space look the same and the ink takes care of itself.
If you only dwell in the positive space, something very important winds up missing from your composition. Pythagoras once said “limit gives form to the limitless.” The Japanese have a word for this “Ma,” when the space around something helps to define it and give it shape. Here in the west, we have no such word. Empty space? Put an office park in it.
But in Japan they have rock gardens and you can stroll around getting hip to the fact that that terrifying word “lack” might not be so terrifying.