A strange topic for me to premiere with, isn’t it? Emptiness.
But there is so much to say. Emptiness is such a deep part of my life. It tries to overpower me daily and truth be told, it often succeeds. And don’t be fooled—I am not some dark and tragic thinker. I am just the same as every one of you.
Emptiness in general is that missing thing in our life. We are all born with the same vacancy and it’s how each of us deal with this initial emptiness that separates us. Born with the smallest amount, the void grows larger as we age. When I was little, I filled it with my imagination, the precious gift of the youth. How extraordinary it is when we are young; we forget our hardships easily, some things never seem as terrible, and other things we passionately revolt against only to forget them the next hour. I think we have more power when we are young. But our gifts get lost in culture and that hollow space gets bigger. Our flesh eventually turns against us, confuses and deceives us. My emptiness turned into loneliness, pain, and disappointment. I tried to fill it with my own lust for power and control (and I was only thirteen).
But we cannot control darkness. We can only overcome it. I recall the year I was fifteen, an age when the entire universe seems to be plotting against us. The emptiness turned into complete apathy for all life. Not only was the world not important enough to strive for, it was also not worth the energy to try and escape it. High school usually seems to be the time period when the emptiness can make or break you and can define the rest of your life. Some of us will try to fill the emptiness with sex, parties, and substance abuse. Some of us will try to fill it with perfection: always striving for the A, to be the best, to receive the award. Some may even try to fill it with something that appears to be okay, even good.
For example, I have known many women who were not comfortable being single. Ever. And even though I have approved of some of their marriages, I knew that they would always suffer because they filled their emptiness with the opinions of one man instead of something stronger and more substantial. And don’t for a moment think that men are immune. I had a friend get himself into trouble because he lowered every standard he had when the opportunity came up to fill his emptiness with lust. His emptiness took the form of identity, thinking he would never be the guy he wanted to be (crazy sexy cool kind of guy). To me he was wonderful and perfect in his own way. If only he had my eyes. He met someone who made him feel good about what he was not, but instead of encouraging him for what he already was, he got trapped in a struggle for need and self confidence, succumbed to flesh and violence, and was trapped. Her opinion became the only opinion and I lost him forever.
When I was fifteen, at the height of my emptiness, something marvelous happened: I discovered what was missing. There was this thing I had heard about but did not know and still to this day do not understand. I have never really received it and have never quite figured out how to give it. I often dislike this thing because I have absolutely no control over it—it neither listens nor succumbs to anything I say or do. It doesn’t depend on how many men I do or do not sleep with, how many times I cut myself, how many As I receive or how many Ds. It rejoiced when I bought that homeless man a cup of coffee and it wept the night I got wasted because I couldn’t deal with my sadness.
The interesting thing is … I still don’t know this thing. I don’t get it. That morning when I was fifteen, I realized that it existed, but I don’t think I have ever really done much about it. For eight years I have followed after this thing, wrapped my entire life around it, let it influence all of my opinions and decisions. But at twenty-three, I sit here confused and hardened because I am still empty. This thing wants so badly to get into that perfectly shaped hole in my existence. It wants so badly to change my path and help me every step. It wants so badly to show me how beautiful not only I am but everything in existence.
But I won’t let it. Even though I have in my head the wonder and greatness of this thing and the power it has to better my life, I constantly push it away and have disdain toward it. My lifelong emptiness has influenced my heart to distrust. I don’t trust this wonderful beautiful thing.
But I have hope that someday I will. Hopefully, that’s enough.
“And we are so fragile,
And our cracking bones make noise,
And we are just,
Breakable girls and boys”—Ingrid Michaelson