what is emptiness good for?
I thought of a third way that things have ended — occasionally I have replaced one relationship with another one. Presumably, the same transferences applied, just to different people.
I’m an introvert. And I do actually enjoy solitude.
But I have a deathly fear of a vacant spot in my roster of important relationships. Even when I know someone is toxic for me (not the case here), I am metaphorically kicking and screaming as I push them out of my life. And – so far – I continue to wonder how they’re doing. Wonder if they miss me. Was I even that special to them?
That way lies madness.
In his book, The Experience of Emptiness, Clive Hazell wrote about ‘emptiness’ in the sense I’m using it here:
“Before the artistic creation, and before the theoretical excursion, there needs must be the experience of emptiness, and … there is evidence here to suggest that much of the experience of emptiness is due to the fact that it is an integral phase of the developmental process and is found in higher levels in persons of higher cognitive complexity and higher levels of intellectual overexcitability and theoretical interest. The experiences around the potential space are thus deeply intertwined with emotional development. The space itself is like the empty page that confronts the poet or the writer or the blank canvas that the artist faces…. Personal freedom and development rest upon the creation of the initial void, for without this, the authentic creative response is annulled. These experiences are denied the individual who does not know and stand in relation to the empty spaces in the stream of life.” (pp. 109-110)
I first read his book in 2005, and it illuminated many things for me. I realized that emptiness has always been a precursor to major developmental shifts. Sometimes I’m more than ready for everything old to pass away. Other times I’m more ambivalent.
I actually think I’ve been inching my way out of my (most current) cocoon since, well, 2005. Seismic shifts have been going on at subterranean depths in my psyche for the last seven years. I’ve only occasionally been aware that things were in flux, but I usually thought they were more ordinary, monthly/yearly kinds of shifts. Now I see the process has been more like volcanic lava flowing underwater, reshaping my entire being, but only catching the attention of my ego in spurts.
And my ego kept looking for answers, prematurely. I need to keep questioning. I need to experiment with levels of permeability to my environment and to my neighbors. But I also need to stay open to serendipity.
I need to feel deeply. I need to discover who I am, when I am not hiding behind conceptions of myself I’ve outgrown.
I need to just be. That will take me somewhere I’ve never been. It’ll be challenging, but I think I’m ready.