The plan was to paste some Jackson Brown lyrics here. Something from “Running on Empty.” My search engine was too slow. The little curving arrow kept spinning, turning in upon itself with nothing to show for all the activity. So I decided to wing it. After all, this post is about feeling empty. Staring at a blank screen that is filled with a void of white seems like a perfect place to start.
I queue up “Running on Empty” on Spotify. The beat of the bass fills my ears. This was always a great driving song. Skimming over country roads a little too fast and taking the dips that would leave me feeling airborne on the down side is as close to the sensation of flying that I’ll ever get. I still remember the fluttering in my stomach that lingered after this taste of flight. In the emptiness there was a flutter. There is a flutter in the simple memory. Maybe I’m not really empty after all. Maybe, I just feel empty.
Wanting to fill the void, I open up The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron. I’ve had this “writing manual” for several years. Part of me has been afraid to open it. Don’t ask me what I’m afraid of. I don’t know. Yet. Cameron suggests that the reader keep a morning journal. She advises writing two to three handwritten pages each morning before beginning the business of the day.
“Morning pages are the gateway to the inner and higher self.. . They render us present to the moment. They introduce us to an unsuspected inner strength and agility. They draw to our attention those areas of our life that need our focus. Both our weaknesses and our strengths will be gently revealed. Problems will be exposed and solutions suggested. ” (Cameron 2).
On the very next page, Cameron suggests that frequent walks are also important to the creative process. She says this about a walk:
“It nudges us out of our habitual thinking. It builds a bridge to higher consciousness. It allows us to access our intuition, to focus on solutions rather than problems.” (Cameron 3).
My experience responds with a long and relieved sigh. “Yes,” it says. “I know these things to be true.”
As I stare at the blank page, the white void, words form into questions like these:
How do I share enough of myself to be known for who I am without giving too much away?
How do I establish close relationships without losing myself?
When is the risk to become more genuine, more alive, worth it?
How do I juggle failure and success without dropping what is most important?
How do I survive adversity, isolation, doubt?
At times, I am too open. I reveal too much.
Returning hours later to finish this post, I’m at a loss. I don’t know where this is going or where I want to take it. The point of it all is lost and the feeling of being empty has returned stronger than it was before. I don’t know where to go next. Eating dinner without thinking, I eat too much.
I type. I reread. I edit. I delete. The words do not come. Feelings are getting in the way. They suck the words away like an evil cat steals the breath of a sleeping infant away in mothers’ nightmares. Out of the odd jumble of broken words, fractured thoughts and shattered images, one feeling emerges. This emptiness is hiding the hollow feeling of loss. It isn’t pleasant or positive or pretty or inspiring. It hurts.
Others’ have tried to rob me of this feeling. Some try to shame me out of it, telling me that I “shouldn’t feel that way.” For some, it’s too close to their own pain. They will not speak of it. Tenderly, I pick up this feeling and hold it in my arms. I whisper to it, “Loss, you are mine.” This is all loss has ever wanted, to be acknowledged, to be held, to be received for what it is.
Out of the emptiness comes hope.
I will be made strong in all the broken places. Gradually, loss starts to clean up and make some room. Life wants in.