Empty

My school sits on a hilltop. When I drive home at night, I have to descend into a small valley between the school and home. That’s where it pops in – that little question – what’s-the-point?

Snuff it and tough it I tell myself. Then, I meet the little bugger in dreams, at stop signs, and wherever else my resistance thins. Nothing really matters, it’s all the same, blah blah. However, the question takes me to the same end point – a kind of face to face encounter with a place I’ve come to call the Big Empty.

The Big Empty is a cliff where all the rules about beginning and end seem to float. Through this place, a cosmic steam flows through in silence. Nothing and no one to hang on to. A week ago, I stood there on my little cliff once again, looking out and feeling into this empty place, I got this aha – that it nothing gave birth to something, something likewise to nothing, and learning that swimming in this stream is the skill that matters most.

Now, note that physicists pour immense amounts of research time into studying vacuums, deep space, and the void. Some thinkers have re-dubbed the domain beyond what we can see, touch, and smell, as pure potential. I meet it when I awaken to the blank slate of the new day. I have a moment before my programming sets it. Then I fill in the blanks. I call this existential blank point. a reckoning point -a chance to get true account a deeper well of understanding just below where I usually go.

When stuff arises from this realm, it can disrupt or redirect my day. The ‘content’ can arrive in simple attire, but it can cut deep. Two quick examples – one personal and one professional – that have helped me connect the dots between purpose and emptiness:

  • I am sitting at the dinner table. My stepson sits to my left. I am lost in my thoughts about a situation at work. Then, I sense that he is observing me, tracking the expressions on my face, maybe forming a comment or a conclusion. I breathe and note that I am back in the room again, events of the day receding, I turn to him and say hello. He says hi. The flood of the present enters my mind – and I realize that the present was here all along. I have a flash where I am smelling, seeing, hearing, and touching truth. I get that I like this kid and I understand that I need to pay attention since he is communicating with me. Time elapsed? Thirty seconds.
  • I am standing on the playground behind my school. I am looking at the housing projects across the street. My head is full of about six events that have me on edge. I go on a walk asking myself why I do what I do. Then, a red kickball slams into the fence just a few feet from me. I snap to. The little voice comes to me saying wake up. Just notice. Notice! That’s how truth comes. You have to learn how to wait and watch.

Purpose walks in from the mist of the Big Empty. I am sorry I can’t clean that up for you. You will have to sort out whether this makes sense on your own. For me, emptiness sweeps in and liberates in ways I cannot predict. If I could predict them, I would prevent them and that’s an irony I doubt I will even understand.

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