The Void

And who am I? This question fills me with a kind of emptiness, as if highlighting what’s missing, rather than what’s present. The void. The nothingness that accompanies the lack of answers.

The void has been with me since my early childhood, draining energy, will, and light. I tried to escape from it, to bury it, to deny it, to exorcise it, to ignore it, to overcome it with determination. It did not matter. It just laid there, oblivious to all my efforts, looking at me with an empty gaze.

At first, I felt dizzy – not with the kind of dizziness that makes the body reel but the kind that’s like a dead emptiness in the brain, an instinctive awareness of the void.

Fernando Pessoa, The Education of the Stoic

It took me decades to realise that my only option was to accept the void. Not hide from it but encompass it, eat it.

I sit at the border of this black lake and stare into it. Vertigo. I can stretch out my arms and imagine I embrace it, hug it even. Maybe I will just get acquainted with it. Does it have a personality? I could give it a name… I will call it Erik. Erik the Empty. How did it come here? An earthquake… the chasm that appeared when my ego consciousness was torn from my unconscious. The source of all unhappiness and unfulfillment, the original sin.

I wonder if there is anything inside Lake Erik. Some hills and valleys at the bottom, maybe? Some life? Obviously not. Lake Erik is no-life, no-existence. It is the essential other side of Existence. Not a real-unreal duality, since unreal also exists. No, this is nothing versus everything.

Lake Erik has always scared me, but I must admit there is a beauty to it. Extreme peace. Is this death? No. It is not just devoid of life, like death would be. Lake Erik is devoid of existence. And yet, here it is, in front of me. It does exist. At least, it is contained by these shores and that mountain. The lack of reflection is a bit unnerving, but it has a contour, at least up here. Maybe it is bottomless and infinite. Nothingness would be infinite. I guess this is the place where nothingness meets… something. Right here, in front of me.

I could go somewhere else, of course, but the lake would wait for me. An inherent part of me. It is interesting how it feels: one comes down here, not up. Void should be lighter than air, but it feels heavier than any matter. This is an interesting place. The other side of something, of anything, of everything. The very shadow of existence.

The earthquake that sundered our consciousnesses cut the ground so deep that we can now see the ‘other side’ between them. I wonder if the void can move and inundate existence or whether existence and non-existence are irremediably separated, and I am just clumsily sitting in between. I always expected high pressure here, either positive or negative, with both sides pushing or pulling, or maybe a flow from positive to negative existence. But no, it actually feels quite neutral.

We never know fulfilment. We are two abysses – a well staring at the sky.

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

This void is part of my psyche. I can divert the electrical impulses around it, but I can’t make it disappear. I am the void, and it is me. It will exist, or not, for as long as I exist. And then, it will evaporate. The void is here because of me, for me.

I used to think that it sucked my energy until it dried me out. I always considered this to be a painful wound. In fact, a wound that defined me. The man with a hole, the incomplete man. It doesn’t feel like that any more. Now I just sit here and watch it. Maybe this hole, this void that is stuck with me, that is part of me… completes me. Maybe without it I would be seriously damaged, imbalanced.