Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Emptiness


Emptiness has shown itself to me in many forms: abuse (physical and sexual), bias (racial and religious), exclusion (opportunity and place), failure (individual and marital), fear (insecurity and rejection), hunger (food and love), loss (personal and occupational), poor mental health (anxiety and depression), and poverty (financial and spiritual).

In some instances, along with it came its closely associated disruptive detours, inconvenient side roads, all mere escapes neatly lined with brightly covered cones of apathy, distraction, foolishness, and worst of all self-destructive behavior.

One thing is for certain, emptiness does still allow us an opportunity to switch lanes, to slow down, and to come to a temporary resting place, be it on the shoulder of the high-speed freeway of life or completely off road somewhere. But the real question is this, once emptiness finds us and we are capable of recognizing it for what it truly represents, how do we then determine what the correct response should be?
From time to time, most people run into a core feeling that might be described as emptiness or meaninglessness. It is the sense that something is missing in one's self or in life. It sometimes arises as a feeling of being personally incomplete, as if there is a void that needs to be filled, and that obtaining whatever is missing would make one feel whole. The feeling may appear in different forms, but in each it comes as a raw and simple sense, even though what's behind it is not so simple. Frequently people experience these effects as almost physical: an ache in the heart, or in the pit of the stomach, or as a hole deep within the core of themselves, and always as something uncomfortable.
Accompanying this sense, or included in it, is almost always a feeling of isolation and separation-- the sense that you are alone, even in a crowd. Most of us are not happy being alone, but neither are we completely happy in our relationships with others. Both seem to build a "promise" that remains unfulfilled. We find some sense of hope in the beginnings of fulfillment--in either being alone or in relationships--but this almost always degrades into vague feelings of disappointment because it never goes all the way. We then tend to assume that real fulfillment is simply out of reach, either temporarily or permanently depending on our personal history and programming. But none of us questions the foundation of our relationship to this matter. We don't notice that overlooked cultural assumptions may be the source of both our desire for happiness and our failure to achieve it.
- Peter Ralston, The Book of Not Knowing

Because I have predominantly been taught to and have practiced living as a person holding on to a Westernized Worldview, I am not wholly qualified to describe to you in detail what "emptiness is" or feels like or looks like or sounds like in the most universal way. Therefore, what I will attempt to do over time, is to present to you multiple representations of how and where the respite of emptiness has been found and exceedingly well leveraged by others with the sincere hope that you too might experience it for yourself. When you do, as I believe that we are all innately capable of doing so, may it boldly lead you through all fear, self-limitation, and safely out and into the very places where you are meant to go so that you may more fully discover your truth, your purpose, and how you can positively impact everyone that you come into contact with as you continue to travel along your chosen path.



Thank you and many blessings to all.
JD