No price is too high for the privilege of getting to know ourselves. ~ Frederich Nietzsche
Sometimes we go to bed at night and all is well. But we get up in the morning feeling unmotivated, on edge, or empty. Our sense of humor is nowhere to be found, life seems terribly serious, and time drags. This just happened to me. And it sucks.
Shortly after I get up, I watch a goose and gander out for a swim with their five yellow-feathered little ones. I think of my kids. While they don’t need me in the way that they used to, most days they still call to say “hello.” They check in sometimes, asking advice, and occasionally, I give it.
My kids want me, and to be wanted is divine.
I can’t write this morning from this place of emptiness. Words won’t come, and though I know better, I stick with it, trying to squeeze even a few bold sentences out of myself. No such luck.
But then a text arrives.
It is an invitation to a very fancy place for dinner with two women I love who love me right back. If dinner had been closer than a five hour drive, I might have leaped at the diversion. As it was, I remained focused on my own down-hearted day.
They wanted my company for dinner, and to be wanted is divine.
Sitting with myself, empty and downbeat, there is a temptation to ponder what went wrong. Are the planets in retrograde, did I eat something I shouldn’t have, or have I fallen out of favor with some deity, or myself? Surely there is some reason behind how we feel when we feel empty.
The pursuit of reasons for emptiness is a waste of time. The most fruitful it can be is in generating a story. “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” That is what my mother used to say, and so I pull myself up and stand with my loneliness.
I want my emptiness, and to be wanted is divine.
I was with the emptiness for several hours. It seemed that it was here to stay, and I can only vaguely remember that life had ever been other than this.
But I used to be an active, single parent, a married man, a kid with parents, and seldom by myself. I remain standing for much of the several hours—it just seems an interesting thing to do, and it heightens my attention. Then, shortly after lunch the emptiness turns into nothing.
I want my nothing, and to be wanted is divine.
Nothing is as different from emptiness as it can be. I know from experience that creativity arises out of nothing. Emptiness focuses on the absence of people, places, and things. Nothing embraces both nothing and it’s flip side: everything. Rather than tapping the creativity right away, I relax into it as it builds speed and strength within me.
I want my creativity, and to be wanted is divine.
I step over to my computer, which is poised on a kid’s chair on top of a desk, creating a standing desk from which I can look up from the screen at the lake. The chair has a small, brass plate on it that says “Flopsy.” A reference to Beatrix Potter, I think. I begin to type out words and watch as they put themselves in order.
I want words on the screen, and to be wanted is divine.
A blog quickly writes itself, occasionally inviting my input, but mostly just encouraging me to observe the process. There is no internet at the lake, so once I have finished the blog and read it several times—writing and re-writing—I hop in the car and head into town.
I want a trip to town, and to be wanted is divine.
I enter the local Jack in the Box burger joint. There are people there eating food that I wouldn’t. There is a TV blaring and plastic tables surrounded by plastic benches on a linoleum floor. I don’t order a coke or anything else, but upload the blog.
I want a fast food burger place full of locals and grease and plastic, and to be wanted is divine.
Heading home, I see a little gang of turkeys, five horses in a large pasture with a pond at the back, four brand spankin’ new chicken barns, and huge pine cones. As I approach the junction of roads where I turn right to take me to the lake house, there is a recently clear-cut area with only small poplar trees remaining and a view of vast Alabama rolling hills.
I want the clear-cut, so I can see the view, and to be wanted is divine.
When I get home, I greet the neighbors one-year-old pit bull puppy who has adopted me for my month’s visit at the lake. She has chewed a swimming noodle and there are fluorescent light-green pieces of foam spread far and wide. She appears to be a mix of proud and ashamed. I scratch her head and her breath changes as her pleasure rises. Once in the house, I wash my hands, curl up on the California King bed with a vast view of the lake. I doze off.
I want to have a short sleep, and to be wanted is divine.
I dream of living on a distant planet where there are no lakes, no dogs, and vast mountains. I am one of the few humans there. The locals look more like angels. They are shiny, short, and always giggling. There is nothing for them to do because robots already do everything. After a while, I wake up noticing sensations in my body, then opening my eyes and watching the afternoon sun as it creeps slowly toward the horizon.
I want this planet to be just the way it is, and to be wanted is divine.
I meditate for a while, feeling deeply into myself, into the emptiness, nothingness, and fullness. I Imagine that I have a history, a now, and a future. I enjoy being me, feeling me, breathing, rising, slipping on a suit, and taking the 21 steps to the lake and jumping in.
I want to be me, just the way I am, to be wanted is divine.
Author: Jerry Stocking
Editor: Travis May