Emptiness by other names

Sometimes we experience emptiness as something vague, slightly unsettling, that seems to reside in the core of our being. It may be just the whiff of disillusionment as we return from the high of accomplishment. We quickly turn away by setting a new goal and beginning the pursuit over again. Or a feeling of disconnection haunts us, even as we are surrounded by family and friends. Again we distract ourselves, reassured that we are “living right” and the feeling should just go away. But it is an uninvited, brooding guest who always returns.

Emptiness can also be intense: alienation, despair, shame, loss. It can be the numbing gulf between desire and fulfilment. Loneliness is often described as emptiness. The feeling creeps up on us in moments of reflection. We turn away from the fearful void by busying ourselves again. But what are we really turning away from? Is it wise to ignore something that erodes our satisfaction time and again? Why are we unable to connect even as we are consumed by loneliness?

“If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.” — Sun Tzu

We have to learn from this fearful, unknown space within us, the loneliness that we avoid. We must examine it and know it to truly know ourselves. The only way to get past it is to go through it.

This is what we will do here. We will stop being trapped by loneliness by embracing it, staying with it, learning of ourselves through the echoes in the emptiness. We will explore the development of the self and our need for attachment. We will see the crucial role that authenticity plays in forming meaningful connections. Most importantly, we will take the many small steps that take us down the path to knowing and becoming our true self.

“So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.” — Sun Tzu

I quote from The Art of War as this is a war against mediocrity. A battle to conquer the acceptability of distraction and the unexamined life.

But this is not just about ourselves as individuals. It is not a relentless pursuit of self, come hell or high water. Ultimately we must use our stronger selves to build stronger families and communities. We are only individuals in relation to one another. There can be no “me” without “you”, no “us” without “them”. We derive our lasting strength from the strength we nurture in those around us. We embrace our individuality through our social nature and our diversity—there is no other way. So it this is also a rallying cry to fight against the disconnection that is eroding our communities.


At the end of each article I will invite you to participate in this journey through the comments. You may also contact me directly if you prefer.

How have you experienced emptiness? What do you do to avoid uncomfortable feelings or have you ever tried to learn from them? Share your experience here.

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