Thoughts on Emptiness- Haibun – July 5, 2016

leaf in the water

I’ve been back home in Italy for a couple of weeks now and oddly enough I haven’t done much in the way of writing.  I’ve thousands of photos, lots of memories and ideas but oddly enough not much energy.  Could it be jet lag?  Could it be nostalgia?

This has been a period when many of my friends too have been having problems.  Some have had marriage break-ups, others have lost a parent or close relative, the children have grown and left home – financial problems are beginning to erode their serenity – they’ve gone into retirement or their retirement has been blocked – and I’m a listener, their listener.

One of my friends broke-up with her husband and then her Mom died just a couple of weeks before my Mom. She wanted the break-up and found her own apartment and works hard at her job to build her career – but that hasn’t saved her from melancholia.  The void of change, even change actively sought after, is disorientating.

So there it is. The void.  Wholes rent in ones life once filled with another person or situation. A father, husband, wife, child, job, project suddenly gone and with them, all the fantasies, illusions, expectations and familiarity of a rapport – of the status quo. It’s odd sometimes that emptiness would seem to be so welcome, like after a long stressful illness or an abusive rapport, but when the moment comes, one risks being sucked into the emptiness. That’s when it begins to seem easier to put things off, maybe go take a nap, read a book or drown in the TV or a video game.  Some people drown in drink or drugs, like another friend of mine.  The common denominator among all my friends is emptiness.  And if they happen to decide to go to a health worker, they may be diagnosed with depression and they’ll probably be prescribed a pill or two to get through the day.  So then they drift with pills when what they really wanted was something that would help them overcome the emptiness.

So I return to the first paragraph I wrote here as I realize that my problem right now is that void caused by all the repentine changes in the last nine months of my life.  They’ve been a roller-coaster ride in a way.  I’ve made many changes and haven’t made many others that I really would have liked to have made – it seems that my life is living me instead of me living my life.  I do know what the problem is but I don’t know where to find the energy to move on, especially as I don’t dwell on my problems consciously – perhaps that is what I have to do.

Zen has often been an aid to me throughout my life but I’ve given no thought to Zen in the past few months, except as an abstract idea.  What I have around me now is the roaring sound of one hand clapping … and I’m mistaking the moon in the puddle for the real moon. Where is the emptiness and more importantly where is the fullness – the reality and the illusion?

In Zazen one sits (or walks meditatively).  No books or films or distractions – one sits seeking nothing observing everything.  One listens to what is around one … thoughts are leaves blowing in the wind.

red autumn leaf
water splashes – a fountain
rain drops falling

© Gsk ’16


34 thoughts on “Thoughts on Emptiness- Haibun – July 5, 2016

    • Thanks for sharing … I’m never sure if this lack of energy is physiological (the heat is oppressive and all the travelling I’ve been doing is draining) or psychological (I’ve lost two close family members is a very short period of time) or maybe a combination of the two. All I know is I wake up in the morning with plans and an hour later I’d love to be back in bed sleeping …

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  1. Gli psicoanalisti devono anche loro andare in analisi perché ascoltare i problemi altrui distrugge la psiche di chiunque. Tu hai passato più di un mese ad ascoltare i problemi degli altri, non mi stupisce che tu ora sia un po’ depressa. Non ti preoccupare, fra un po’ ritroverai le tue forze e il vuoto sarà riempito da nuove idee e attività. Tutti noi abbiamo gravi problemi, prima o poi, è successo anche a me per più di 5 anni, purtroppo la mia mentalità, secondo alcuni luterana, mi impedisce di parlarne con chiunque, ma rassicurati, prima o poi passa e si ritrovano nuove forze. e energie. L’importante è comunque la salute che è il nostro patrimonio più sicuro, curala e tutto andrà per il meglio.

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    • Grazie Elena — quel mentalità luterana non mi è nuova … e lo conosco intimamente tedesca quale sono … credo che hai ragione .. un po’ di tempo curando me stessa è una buona cosa. Ciò che mi manca ora è quel libertà (del tutto interiore credimi) e l’energia di fare quelle cose che mi interessa fare. So che prima o poi arriva e so anche she stranamente una parte della strade da fare è accettare l’astenia per superarla. Quanto è paradossale la vita nevvero?


  2. I, too, can empathize with emptiness, the putting off, the drink, the medications. The knowing what should if not must be done, but the inability to start, to push. The drain these sorts of events take on your soul, spirit, heart, and energy.
    May you find what you need to fill your emptiness, to be full again. Perhaps it will be in writing.


    • Let’s hope that I can get back into writing soon – that is the most fulfilling filler … I’ve just returned home again from another week away … and so happy to be back here – I shouldn’t be going anywhere for at least a month and hopefully I can re-orientate myself. I’ve got so much to do too … but I’m wake up feeling tired – that’s what I have to work on … getting over this astenia. Thanks for your sharing here with me. I really appreciate it a lot.


  3. Can totally relate to the emptiness, the drowning. Feeling like “the parade is passing me by” but not having the energy to get up, wake up.

    “One by one, like leaves from a tree, all my faiths have forsaken me.”

    Thoughtful post that so many of us can relate to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know you can relate and whilst writing this piece I was thinking about you as well – as my adventure and yours began at about the same time – that feeling of not having the energy to wake up is driving me mad – it’s like a nightmare where you want to wake up and can’t.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks C … you’ve hit the nail on the head … and it’s very difficult to remember that important reality when one is treading water trying not to drown. Here’s a huge hug for you my wonderful friend!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh, sweet Bastet. All too familiar with that feeling and condition you describe. It’s been only 18 months since I walked into the room and found Mom dead. . . Just now beginning to come back to myself. I tried scanning photos shortly after the funeral, but I only made it through one small album. Just could not gather the strength… Slowly the heart heals. Slowly the mind begins to fill the void(s) left by all the change. Slowly the universe realigns and one becomes centered again…
    Sending love.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dearest Janice … I think of all the wonderful things people have said in reply to this post it seems that your’s is the closest to what’s happening here to me – the passing of first my husband and now my Mom have strangely left me disorientated. I never would have thought so only a few months ago, I’m not a particularly emotional person nor do I form particularly close bonds due to the nomadic life I’ve lead … but perhaps I’ve been fooling myself all along and I’ve been far more attached than I thought I was. I thank you for your experience … as you say … slowly the mind fills the void(s) left by change.

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  5. The deeper we delve, too often our thoughts become swamped in the despondency of melancholia that itself may be the result of loneliness caused by sudden change. Bereavement, divorce or just changing jobs can be more traumatic than most people believe possible – until it happens to them. It is right to give ourselves time to acclimatise and not to be made to feel ‘guilty’ by the usual banal comment ‘You’ll get over it in time.’ Time is that magic ingredient; forever written large in my mind with the image of a dear friend, Irish of course, Peggy O’Neil from Sneem in Ireland, who once told me: ‘When the Lord made Time, He made plenty of it.’ I count that as one of the best pieces of advice ever given me – so go easy and don’t self-flagellate or allow others to beat-you-up either .

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    • God bless you Maureen for your wisdom … yes we all know theoretically about the void of bereavement and change but never quite realize that it is indeed a realty to be dealt with until one finds oneself bogged down. I’ll keep in mind the image of your friend Peggy O’Neil!


  6. Ah, cara, you were in the process of one loss and the rollercoaster started up at the top once more…it is easy to get distracted and walk around in a fog. I think fog is a good description…I can stare at my laptop or a tele screen for way too long and nothing moves in my brain.

    Walking on unknown territory can be overwhelming; it affects routines like writing at dawn or late into the night until dawn…I can relate to feeling life is living…moving on but I’m not living. My work is the only thing that grounds me…when I have time off like this week, my head spins over a well of things I need to do and don’t know where to start.

    Keep writing your thoughts, cara. My Emma has helped me stay afloat. Tu es dans mes pensées ma chère amie.

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    • Yes … I’m thinking that this particular time of change has been a little like walking along a familiar path only to suddenly find that I’ve had a rug pulled out from under me and I’m about to be sucked under by quick sand. As long as I have something to do for others – like my lessons – then I’m fine but when I have free time or alone time I suddenly feel like I don’t know where to begin the things I should or would like to be doing.
      Since I wrote this piece I’ve been away from home on reenactment … a real disaster because of the excessive heat etc. I’m back home and very happy to be here – and feeling like I’m in a cocoon. I think I really have to accept that – I guess I have to just rebuild my life according to my new reality. A challenge. A part of me wants to be coddled and wants to depend on someone … another part of me wants to be independent and free from ties. Basically I guess I need to just sit still for a moment and figure out what I really want for myself.


      • Sitting still a moment and not trying to figure out anything (unless immediate issues that need tending)…it reminds me of when I am looking for something I thought I misplaced…I look and look for days, weeks and find it where it was all the time…

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in shadows light - walking under weeping pines - spring rain

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