Sometimes when this place gets kind of empty
Sound of their breath fades with the light
Sometimes I look at the space around me and all I see is that it is empty. I see a chair, a bed, a modern-art print on the wall. Through the window I see cars on the street and people sitting on their balconies. If I were to punch a hole through this apartment wall, a family of three would look up from their dining room table. But I see all this and take it in as empty.
The faces of the people, the sounds of their living, the things they make and break – everything is empty. I don’t know the full reason for this, but I suspect it has something to do with my new reality of not being sure of what I’m perceiving, not being sure of what lies behind life. I’ve always been certain of at least something. I’ve always been sure of what drives life forward. But now my list of certainties shrinks every month, every week, every day.
What dramatic statements. And they’re not completely true. There are still things I am certain of, things whose sureness becomes more firm as other things that used to be facts to me waver between being concrete matter and almost-ghosts:
I am sure my parents love me, more than I know and in a way I do not fully understand. I am sure others in my family love me; they show me every day by continually being there even when I am silent and distant.
I am sure my closest friends love me. They are people who have listened to me, been consistently present, and haven’t turned away when I am at my lowest, my wrong-est, my most selfish. They’ve invited me into their lives and have kept me there.
I am sure I am really, really blessed, fortunate, lucky – whatever word you want to use. I’ve had little trouble in my life and have never known true lack. My body is healthy and I’m not (very) worried about how much is in my bank account. Compared to most, my life is luxury.
And yet I look around and all I see is empty.
I think about the loveless fascination
Under the Milky Way tonight
I think of speeding down the Chicago shoreline at night, city lights on one side, vast, enticing lake on the other.
I think of stepping into a cool room of a museum and instantly falling in love with an Yves Tanguy I’m seeing for the first time.
I think of the moment the lights come up and Morrissey, or Bono, or Billy Corgan steps onto the stage, sounds the first note, and I get chills.
I think of wild, unbridled waves building and crashing onto the uncommercialized black sands of a Guatemalan beach.
I think of a friend’s attentive gaze and listening ear over a glass of wine in her kitchen.
I think of my baby nephew laughing.
I think of my heart beating regularly, strongly, and, to my knowledge,
And yet I look around and all I see is empty?
Wish I knew what you were looking for
Might have known what you would find
(Lyrics taken from Under the Milky Way,
by The Church)