people complain about feeling empty but i don’t understand what the problem is.
perhaps it’s actually a horrible feeling. i wouldn’t know, i’ve never
felt it. but i find it hard to imagine that a feeling of emptiness
would be unpleasant.
i’ve always felt far from empty. my mind has always been a very
cluttered room. and at any given time my attention can be consumed by
the contents of it:
there are randomly placed filing-cabinets facing various directions
that look as if the drawers are being used as office waste-baskets and
there are portraits, photos, and posters of my daughter, my heroes,
public figures i despise, ex-girlfriends, people i’ve lost touch with,
people who’ve hurt me, people i’ve hurt, my siblings, myself, and my
there are landscapes, cityscapes, panoramic views of places i’ve been
to, and places i’ll probably never see. there’s works of art,
pornography, religious tracts, news articles, pages of fiction,
non-fiction, science fiction, science non-fiction and philosophy
plastered all over the walls. and there are movies being projected on
top of it all.
there’s an endless stream of sound. there are recorded
dialogues–lots of those!–there are heavy hypnotic beats, and ambient
noises on infinite loops. there are songs i hate, being repeated over
and over and over.
there are shelves and shelves of books in various states of completion
(only one of them is finished)–and most of them were not written
intentionally. there are books about the future that would scare the
fuck out of stephen king. and there are books about the past that
tend to scare me more than those do.
the room is mainly lit by interrogation lamps hanging from the
ceiling–they are always swinging–just slightly.
there are no clocks on these walls.
there are all sorts of heavy pains and fears packed diligently into
boxes. and these boxes are all over the place–stacked up to the
ceiling in some places.
moving around in here requires the pushing, pulling, and lifting of
when i was younger–as far back as i can remember actually, i hoped
that all of this heavy lifting would become easier as i grew up–as i
became stronger. but even as a child i knew this hope was false–i
knew it just wouldn’t work out that way.
i did become stronger as i grew up, but all this mess inside me grew
heavier as well. it wasn’t just that the heavy objects–the fears,
the pain, the guilt, worry, and self-loathing–continued to
accumulate. (they *did* accumulate–faster and faster–at a rate that
could probably be graphed with a straight line rising at a 45 degree
angle off an x-axis labeled ‘years’.) accumulation alone would not
have posed as much of a problem. as i grew stronger i’d be able to
move things around faster–i might even be able to keep up with the
rate of intake.
but the real problem was that, as i grew, so did all the heavy stuff.
most of the time it kept pace with me, but sometimes it shot
ahead–those stacked boxes would gain a few inches on me, and i’d
never catch up. i’d just keep pushing, pulling, and lifting a bit
slower all the time. getting tired faster than i was getting
and then of course i became an adult. i stopped growing, but the
heavy stuff didn’t. and more and more of it kept piling up.
eventually i figured out that it’s all a matter of changing the intake
filters. the ones my father installed for me have been doing the
opposite of what filters should do–they’re letting all kinds of
poison in and keeping a lot of the good stuff out. so i worked up
some energy (the realization itself that i may have found a solution
provided a pretty big boost) and began the long arduous process of
finding and changing the filters.
but i was still so tired! the work went slowly, and all the heavy
stuff kept piling up and growing as quickly as ever. eventually, i
couldn’t really move around in here at all anymore. and the weight of
it all simply crushed me. but it didn’t kill me. and it didn’t even
hurt the way i expected it to. oh, it hurt! more than anything ever!
just not in the way i thought it would.
and so here i am, on what very well may be the actual 1 year
anniversary of my becoming homeless (i don’t really remember the
date), and things are different now. i’m on zoloft–which works not
by making me stronger, but by making all the heavy stuff lighter.
and so i’m now able to work faster at changing those filters. i’m
even able to pay more attention to the problems and opportunities that
lie outside of this room. things are getting better. even if it’s
still pretty cramped and stuffy in here, i’m making progress. and
when i think about peace–actually feeling real peace–i think of an
empty room. i yearn for emptiness.