This morning I was listening to a song and I couldn’t help but think about the emptiness it represented. I think about emptiness often. Or maybe I just feel empty often. Or maybe I just notice that everyone in the world seems to be battling emptiness often. I’m not sure which it is. Let’s face it. Emptiness is everywhere. And while some forms of emptiness are necessary in our healing, the majority of emptiness is coming from our disconnection with our purpose, with who we were meant to be. We are empty because we aren’t listening to ourselves and what we want.
I see emptiness in the loneliness. So many of us are searching high and low for that one person who will finally make us feel fulfilled. There are songs about it. There are books about it. It promises to be the panacea to our emptiness. We will finally fill that big gaping hole with the perfect person. This loneliness comes from the love seeker who is pinning all their hopes on figuring out relational success. They will give their power away again and again because they have that little bit of hope in another person doing the right thing. My client, Jan Kozlowski, said this morning, “That little flicker of hope is a BASTARD.”
I see emptiness in the surface conversations. I am sitting in a restaurant by myself typing this blog. There are people around me who might feel sorry for me because I am alone. They might feel sorrier for me because I am typing on this computer. Occasionally I hear a comment or question from a conversation nearby. “How’s your job?” “What have you been up to lately?” “How’s the wife?” There’s lots of discussions about houses and cars and partners and working too much. It sounds good, but there is an emptiness. It seems like they have so much more to say, but don’t know how to say it. There is an emptiness in their words. (But then there are the four experienced women in the corner who won’t stop laughing. I sort of want to be them.)
I see emptiness in the rush. It’s the holidays and we know what that means. We must run until we drop. We must build our perfect external world, so it compares to others. We have lost ourselves, so we follow the lead of others. And it isn’t specific to the holidays. It exists all year long. We run. We rush. We buy all the things. We sign our children up for all the activities. We try not to miss any of the events. We exhaust ourselves. But it keeps the emptiness at bay, so we keep going. We don’t want to feel that lack of fulfillment or purpose. And we will do almost anything to avoid it.
I see emptiness in the paralysis. There is emptiness in the futility. Or maybe the emptiness creates the futility. I am not sure. But they exist together. The emptiness says there should be more. And the futility says don’t bother to try and find it. The paralysis of that battle keeps us stuck. That stuck translates to a stuck life. And it feels awful. It is hard to get past this battle, so we stay with what we know. We stay with the momentum. And that word is misleading. This momentum is stuck.
I see emptiness in growing old. There is so much focus on time and age. And for those of us who have experienced more years of life than others, we might be disappointed. We might be feeling like we had bigger plans. We might be feeling like time is running out to find that purpose. We might even be hearing that little (or very loud) voice saying, “It’s too late.” There is emptiness that comes with that. There is futility that comes with that. But it’s never too late. And realizing that can save us from our emptiness.
This blog isn’t meant to be a downer. But it is meant to be real. In the end, the emptiness isn’t the bad part. The emptiness is the reminder of how we need to come back to self and purpose. The emptiness is the reminder that life doesn’t have to be about survival or just making it to the end. The emptiness is here to help. So maybe we need to make some peace with the emptiness. Maybe we need to take some time to get to know it and understand it, even friend it. That’s not easy. I think I need that advice as much as you do. But maybe we need to listen for the message behind the emptiness. I promise it’s there.