Emptiness, as with so many states of being, arrives in different forms: sometimes a welcome exhaustion following the pleasure of heavy exertion; sometimes the white of bleak, winter landscapes; sometimes the despair of a non-existent balance on an overdrawn account; sometimes the clean space of beginner’s mind.
Sages and alchemists understood that survival often lies in transforming the things we encounter–both within ourselves and between ourselves and the world–from one form to another as the situation indicates.
Each day I ask myself whether I can turn this emptiness I so often possess (and which possesses me) into another form, from despair to presence. Can I make absence and lack into openness and receptivity?
Winter’s frigid sleep and slaughter becomes the blank canvas for spring; the jungle’s living cacophony bursts from a tangle of unending decay. In each instance, absence–emptiness–lays the foundation for birth and growth.
Life and death coil about one another like snakes roiled in combat. Or the rituals of mating. Or both.
I can’t get to necessity by clinging; I can arrive there only by emptying. What a cold and terrifying place it can be to dwell. Yet nothing matters more than letting go because the essence left behind becomes the material to be transformed into whatever comes next.
It may turn out dispossession is nine tenths of the law of existence.
This transformation needs to happen inside/out. I’m trying to teach myself to let go: of states of mind, of habits of thinking, and of the carbon dioxide–clenched in my lungs–that keeps clean oxygen from coming in.