Nothing is the new something.

Physicists now tell us that what we once thought was nothing – the empty space between things – isn’t empty after all. At the subatomic level it’s teeming with invisible quantum energy. This mysterious dark energy supposedly makes up 96 percent of the universe, along with its equally mysterious companion, dark matter.

You and I and the world of seemingly concrete things like buildings and iPhones and fish tacos are barely represented minorities, on the order of nonwhite people in Maine, comprising only about 4 percent of everything that exists.

The classical composer Claude Debussy famously said that “music is the spaces between the notes,” to which I, a completely nonmusical person, can only reply, “Huh? Really?”

People who meditate talk about “the space between two thoughts,” where they believe you can glimpse the infinite, experience inner peace and achieve enlightenment. A cool place to hang out, if you can find it.

All this “between the spaces” esoterica would normally be something I found only modestly interesting, but hardly relevant to my day-to-day life. That was until I realized it was the perfect explanation on which to hang my newfound – though admittedly a little sketchy – strategy for surviving yet another long, dreary Maine winter.

Like many aging Mainers, I’ve become increasingly intolerant of winter. I’ve tried embracing it, planning to get back into downhill skiing; continuing my morning walks, no matter how dark or cold; buying snowshoes and ice skates; reading backlogged books and magazines.

But all this winter activity is just too much trouble, too much effort. I remain uncommitted. Unmotivated. There’s just no getting around it – winter in Maine is a bear (a baited, trapped, angry bear, snarling and dangerous) and therefore unbearable.

If I could just think of winter as one of those between spaces (in this case, that interminable space between the glorious fall and the miraculous spring), then maybe I could simply ignore it, like I do a lot of other unpleasant things in my life, and not worry about collapsing the universe, missing the music, failing to reach satori or, more prosaically, catching a bad cold.

I dislike the pronouncement, “It is what it is,” but that gnomic utterance so perfectly captures winter. Winter simply is what it is. Unstoppable. Indifferent. Unalterable. So why worry myself about it?

Especially if I let my mind make a giant philosophical leap: We create our own reality! Nothing really exists except for what our conscious minds conjure up. We can thank Immanuel Kant, the German philosopher, for that pithy idea. He’s given us the mental ammunition to shoot down winter, simply by removing it from our consciousness!

Unfortunately, such thinking is hard to square with reality. Because when I leave my house tomorrow morning there’ll likely be snow in the forecast, temps in the 20s, ice on my windshield and bitterness in my soul. Seems I need a better strategy; something I can actually count on. After all, something is better than nothing.

– Special to the Telegram