He had looked into the void and the void had looked back into him
He wasn’t prepared for that
The void had probed deep into his core code
It explored beyond his highest logic centres, filled with their carefully rehearsed narratives…
_ who I think I am
_ where I think I come from
_ who I think you think I am
_ what I tell myself it is that made me this way
his familiar stories had had no power on it
He learned that he had bluffed himself,
he learned that he couldn’t bluff the void
He tried to hide, but the void sought him out from dark corners of himself where he didn’t even know he had learned to crawl into to be away from himself, and others
The void stripped him bare of everything familiar, and taught him new rules
“If you’re going through hell – just keep going”
“The only way out is through”
“You just need to get half way, plus one step”
The void, a place of emptiness. Barren of long-time companionship.
But eventually the storms that had been whipped up inside of him by the prodding and poking of the void, had begun to subside.
The darkness that had consumed his consciousness for the longest time began to draw back and revealed a new landscape
In the literal sense, he found himself physically living far from where he had begun his journey of exploration, and from his first timid steps toward the edge of the event horizon at the centre of his conscious world. He had uprooted himself from his work security, from the annuities, unit trusts and insurance policies to which he had faithfully contributed, all promising security for him beyond retirement, and beyond his death, for his family.
He had left behind him, people who had accepted him – who had played a role in the seasons of his life before this journey into his own nothingness.
He had left behind him fellow worshippers still locked in their limiting views of life and reality, people he knew to be good, but not ready to face a void of their own
From them, and from all of this, he had been uprooted and had then been thrust into the wild by a chaos of the void’s making
The tearing away had very nearly resulted in him ending his own life
Fortunately, as the void had forced him to investigate his own stories about himself, he was able to see the holes in the narrative – holes through which he had felt the need to feel sorry for himself, and therefore end his life – and so he had been empowered to dispense with these harmful stories forever, and found new ramrod, steel-clad strength inside of him…
He learned a remarkable truth about the friendship and help of complete strangers – fellow pilgrims on journeys of their own – not blind and existing at surface level in this world like so many, but like him, drinking deep from the rivers of consciousness that mark a well-examined life
He had given up on all other narratives and fables concerning this life or any other and had determined to find his own truth, no matter how ugly or how magnificent or, how plain, it could possibly turn out to be
He learned that specifics mean nothing
A car doesn’t bring you happiness
A blonde wife doesn’t make you more fulfilled than a brunette one does
A house really won’t make you feel secure and safe
The choice to be possessed by “things” in order to find fulfilment, or (heaven forbid) to be “successful” is shallow and meaningless, he realised. Many desperate lives are led by people who find themselves trapped by the “things” they worship, and in which their search for identity is wrapped up in vain
In a desperate bid to validate themselves they identify with people who are “more successful” than they are, and acquire the things these people have, hoping to discover the fulfilment and happiness they see in the fake instagram smiles they blindly follow. Groping about in the shallows of consciousness, they fail to see how they teach their children to sacrifice their own identities one day
He had encountered a lot of that and it caused him to question himself. “If they all say life is this way, maybe by the weight of their numbers, they’re right”, he had reasoned
He had previously believed that he had messed up in his own life with regards to not caring for family, or having family-first principles
He had had to leave familiar but toxic shores to learn within the void that “family” is people who choose to bare all of themselves and share all of themselves with you, and in front of whom, you are safe to do the same, no matter what, no matter when
The void showed him many things
He had challenged it once upon a time, saying, I don’t care how terrible or how dark or how bland the truth is, and I don’t care if seeking it kills me.
I am already dead in my own mind.
Whatever life and meaning I discover, I’m happy to accept, so long as none of the lies from my past, and which we tell ourselves, continue to trap or define me.
He had come close to the edge of stepping himself over physically into the black-hole beyond the reality he knew before.
It was touch-and-go for the better part of 18 months.
Death by exhaust fumes,
death by drowning,
death by his own hand.
All welcome options to him at various dark moments within the void
But he had pressed on
“learn to rest – not give up” – he had learned another new rule for surviving life’s journey
He had looked deep into the void, probed it intensely, picked it apart and examined every angle. It felt to him like he had looked all the way in – but do you ever really know?
It didn’t matter anymore, he found
The void had looked deeply enough back into him, he felt. He hadn’t asked it to stop, and now the storms in his life were calming down as a new reality opened to him
The void had done its work
What it left behind was a new man, an unafraid man. A man who now grasped the value of time like he had never done before.
It left a man who could be thrust into the deepest, most fiery parts of hell, and make a home there, shining a new light for himself and those around him. Surprised he learned that as his journey into the void drew to a close, he was discovering a new light inside of him.
As he looked back he realised, whenever the void had threatened to swallow him and everything around him, he had found himself learning to burn for himself and for others, a sun.
Things were going to be different now…