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Communing with The Void
Emptiness is nothing—the state of containing nothing, to be precise. But we don't experience emptiness when encountering something having nothing. We experience emptiness as dichotomous to fullness. In other words, experiencing emptiness is experiencing a lack of fullness, a dramatic lack of fullness; not almost full, not barely full, but essentially not full. But of all the times I've experienced emptiness, there is always something there. Often, the emptiness I feel is coexistent with an overflowing fullness when viewed from another perspective.
Emptiness is associated with loneliness, lack of civilization, quietness, peace, lack of thought, barren nature, and the state of a vessel with its' contents consumed. The latter being most prescient. An emptiness, on one end, is the direct result of fullness on the other. Emptiness allows and enables a fullness to exist, or the fullness is there in all its glory just beneath the surface, the thin veil of emptiness. The ocean, desert, space, and empty-headedness after taking drugs for days all exemplify this. At first, nothing appears to be there, but beneath the thin veil, it is teeming with life.
Specific forms of emptiness provoke a numinous state for me. The lack of humanity is its main feature. God's country, as some would say, but I beg to differ. I see the devil there. It is primal nature with no value for human vanity and non-existent respect for life and consciousness. It is the harshest environment for a functioning society. In this, my mind thrives. At times I'm in ecstasy, and I hardly know why.
Peering out the window of an airplane, I look at the clouds concealing most of the ocean, and it speaks to me. There's a voice in my head saying, "hello," it beckons and invites, "welcome back. Stay a while. We understand you here." But nobody's there. I'm comforted by this, I was raised on the precipice of this natural abyss, and I know it better than the city outside my door. I always stay a while. I stay as long as possible until life's perpetual motion dashes the notion against reality.
I used to fantasize about digging a hole in the forest floor. 20 x 20 feet and round like an inverted lego peg. I would create this hole all alone using only a shovel and wheelbarrow. Once dug, the hole would collect water, sprout vegetation, and slowly level out to where the pile of removed rubble and vacuum it once held full would disappear. It would be extinguished as meticulously and mercilessly as life within nature is. It would not, however, be gone so soon as to restrict me from showing others my work.
I hoped to one day bring my adolescent children to this hole being slowly refilled. I would tell them, "when I was your age, I created this hole. Here it lies, being slowly reclaimed by nature. When you need to think, as some of mankind's deepest thoughts are inspired by grueling labor, come here and dig. But you may not reveal my original hole. This would go against nature as she's currently being restored. You must dig a new hole, make your mark, then, once your work is complete, let nature erase your imprint. Let her erase your work, as she will eventually erase both of our lives."
In the emptiness of nature, there's an eternal cycle. A constant churning of organic material akin to a compost heap. My proverbial hole is amid this cycle. There's no passion, no emotion, only a cold, slow, everpresent changing from one to another. Matter is neither created nor destroyed but transferred. Emptied from one vessel to another. It is both entirely empty and yet brimming overfull. Alchemists of the past sought control within this process. Yet, it is so baffling I hardly dare to conceive of it.
Nature has no regard for humanity, as humanity is a new design in the order of things. I sit transfixed by these thoughts in the presence of such nature. I am less than a pebble in the constant progression, and this realization puts me in my place. Astonishingly unimportant in the scale of things, yet an eternal fixture simultaneously. There is a feeling of oneness, but conscious humanity is fundamentally separate.
What a strange place we have here. We are one and the same with the natural world, yet we can transcend its eternal churning and evade entropy with proper maintenance.
Nietzsche's enigmatic line from Beyond Good and Evil comes to mind.
"...if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
I've always read this line as a fact, yet I do not know why. I don't know what it means, but I have experienced its accuracy. In the search for knowledge and watching a sunset over infinite trees, the abyss has been there and peered into my soul. It's laid me bare in the face of a nothingness personified and knows me better than I know myself. There I find a challenge. To be better, humble, mature, and live well. In the same breath, while letting me know we're incredibly insignificant, it shows that what matters, matters so profoundly because it's all we have. It reminds me to forget the trivial, cast it away for it is worth less than nothing, and place the numinous, the significant, and the meaningful in that void.
Maybe, what I find in this nothingness has such a quintessential meaningfulness because of how vapid and meaningless popular culture seems. Once all the advertising, partying, and social hierarchy is out of my view, what matters deep within my soul reminds me where I am, what I'm doing, and how to proceed. Although, I know it's more than simply the absence of civilization. I can't describe it, but something is there. It's the abyss, and it's a power greater than I.