This time of year I like driving out to the Southern California desert. The desert constitutes a place we may think of as offering nothing. But it's this time of year, when we hover between torpid winter and the efflorescence of spring, that highlights the drama of the desert. If you travel to Anza Borrego or Joshua Tree, or even Death Valley, you may do so with the wish to witness the first blurs and blots of color punctuating the desert. But before that is the time of dormancy, of emptiness and space that this interim season and the desert epitomizes.

Here in these quiet, dead, empty moments when nothing seems to be happening, everything is, if we allow ourselves to observe. It's the space we bury with words, laughter, a slurp of java when patient or analyst become too anxious in the silence of the moment...the hour...or the analysis itself. It is the place where the patient and the analyst's unconsciouses intersect to compose Ogden's analytic third. This is Winnicott's transitional space or potential space translated into the creative space of the adult. It is the implied geography between need and satisfaction which Lacan calls the gap and where desire is born and borne.

Part of our task is to help ourselves and our patients become comfortable in the void, to allow feelings, memories and thoughts to germinate. Only when we revere the emptiness, can these verdant sprigs burst forth.

I will end with a fragment of a poem, written several springs ago when I journeyed south:

Another month and the days will grow longer
Spring will come again and we will drive out to the desert
past the dreaming stars and the sleepy blue sky
until we run out of road and there is only cactus and the flowers,
blooming again.

Cleopatra Victoria, MFT