Why You’ll Never Fill The Void

Life is a dialectical exchange of forces in which we have our experience, and it never ends. So get on with it already.

image from inside a deep well for article by larry g maguire

Life is a dialectical exchange of forces in which we have our experience, and it never ends. So get on with it already.

It was November 2013, and I was broke as a pie crust. Joanne and the kids were away for a couple of days, so I was home alone. As I stood in the bathroom late one night, I stared into the mirror, and I screamed. The business was on its knees, I was servicing unsustainable levels of debt, and I had reached the limits of what I was prepared to endure.

On reflection, I don’t know what I was screaming at. Was it me? Was it my former business partner? Was it the gobshite advisor I foolishly hired to help me out of the hole? Was it the great force of the universe who was supposed to be on my side and wasn’t? Maybe it was all these things.

“False optimism sooner or later means disillusionment, anger and hopelessness.”― Abraham H. Maslow

You see, I was the big-shot businessman, the tradesman come good, the one my peers admired, and the younger ones aspired to be. I wasn’t supposed to be limping along broke — I was supposed to be flush and doing well. In a significant way, I denied the dialectical reality of my experience, and it held only for so long. That night in the bathroom served as a watershed, and it was then I gave up the fight.

Early the following year, I closed what was my second business in four years. I sold materials, tools and equipment for whatever I could get and I retreated into my cave. I sold other things too, just to pay the bills. It was a sharp but necessary come down and a difficult time both personally and professionally. Collection agents were never far away, and court summons frequently featured in the post.

What a time.

I was chasing something. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it was out there. So much so that I became blinkered to things of which I should have otherwise been aware. Jesus Christ, I couldn’t make a good decision or find suitable staff to save my life. Of course, they were all a perfect reflection of where I was emotionally and psychologically.

After that second business closure, I took refuge in my kitchen, at one end of the table staring out the back door. Contrastingly, despite the mayhem that was my business and personal financial circumstances, the space inside my skull was silent, probably for the first time since I was a teenager. Back then I use to spend hours staring out my bedroom window, listening to tunes, watching the birds and thinking about whatever. It was purposeless yet important. I realise that now.

That two-year quiet period in my kitchen served to help me realise that I made it all. All of the mayhem I brought on myself. It was not self-reproach, but rather an acceptance that life had occurred for me along certain lines that I had instigated. Now it was time to allow that frantic motion to dissipate so that I could rebuild along new lines. I also realised that the construction of self never ends and that it is comprised of both positive and negative aspects to varying degrees.

“The average member of our society is most often partially satisfied and partially unsatisfied in all of their wants”. — Abraham H. Maslow

It became apparent to me that life was not one-sided despite what the purveyors of positivity would have us believe. There is a void in the self that can never be filled, a vacuum with twin dialectical aspects and this life is about the impossible quest to fill it. Freudian psychotherapist Jacques Lacan said that all language and pursuit of symbols is a perpetual and never-ceasing attempt by the self to find itself. And so that’s what we do.

If filling the void is not a good analogy for you, then call it an expression of self. It’s the same thing only from differing perspectives.

In all of this creative self-expression that we call life, there is a question of utmost importance. We must ask ourselves; from what vantage point does the question come? Are we pursuing, or are we drawn? Do we live in the world of people and things exclusively? Is it they that motivate us to success, or does the motivation to create ourselves come from inside? Can you tell the difference?

Until you can, you can’t.

The void can never be filled, so the torment we endure is a pointless waste of energy. And yet it’s not. Change is the only constant, good and bad things, as we refer them to be, will come and go. And in all of that, we must somehow learn how to process it all and find equilibrium.

We’ll never complete it, not here or anywhere else that life expresses itself. So our only option is to enjoy the moment — or not. It’s all part of the two-sided game.