I grew up in the richest country of the world and never went a day hungry or in fear of my life. But when you’re a child this unique perspective is never realized until you become older and by then it’s too late, the damage has already been done.
At the tender age of seven, I woke myself up using the new alarm clock I had received as a birthday present instead of the new toy I had requested. After walking downstairs to an empty kitchen I set another alarm on the stove to remind me when to leave and catch the bus to school after I finished the cold cereal I prepared for myself. I would sit alone in the back of the bus and sit alone in the corner of the classroom once I got to school.
I spent most days silently observing the other children laugh and play with each other as an outsider looking in, rarely participating. And when I did muster up the courage to participate it was only after the urging of others finally breaking through the thick walls of my shyness. Once outside my walls of loneliness I discovered new emotions, none of which I had expected.
Along with the anticipated feelings of delight and acceptance came some terrible side effects I’ve discovered over the years to be damaging and quite possibly worse than my loneliness ever was. Here in this grand new world of love and admiration I stumbled upon greed, jealousy, resentment, disappointment, and most damaging of all: rejection. This, I believe, caused me to retreat back into my self-made sanctuary of emptiness.
I find myself not wanting to share even these words with anyone other than myself, but like all revelations of this magnitude, I can’t help but want to share the good news. This is where the contradiction reveals itself with such force that any sane individual would recoil in disbelief, but instead it makes me all the more passionate in my need to be an evangelist for my belief in the soothing comfort of emptiness.
It is in no other place than my own self isolated from all others that I can find unconditional love I could never receive from anyone else. I am immediately good enough, loveable, encouraged, and sought after. I feel no rejection of any kind and I never resent the time I’ve spent basking in the warmth of my loneliness.
My only fear is that I may fall into the same trappings of other such life changing beliefs and become a victim of the numerous temptations that might lead me away from my path of emptiness. The greatest of these will be the unavoidable desire to share my emptiness with another.
Like taking photos of beautiful sunsets in order to show them to others, there is something so beautiful, so freeing, and so unexplainably joyful about pure emptiness that I can’t help but want someone else here to experience it with me.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.