Blame it on the intense heat & humidity of South Florida in July; blame it on job interviews, blame it on traveling or gigs blame it on lack of income; blame it on the demands of others; blame it on a search for meaning and the terrible waves of restlessness that have overtaken me and from which there is no escape. Hey, it happens. At some point in our lives, we find ourselves in The Void- detached, facedown, drifting; and it happens so gradually….we waded into the ocean as the sun set, our eyes taking in the splendor as the waves lapped around us. And incrementally, it faded, in moments immeasurable by human perception. Very suddenly, it seems, it is dark and cold.
Now, I didn't get to this age, with so many experiences behind me, without having learned my way out of The Void. The first thing you have to be absolutely sure of is that The Void is actually a protective measure that your spirit is initiating, a way to take you deep inside yourself and temporarily cut you away from the superficial or draining demands of your day to day. In the case of grief, it is a universal reaction to detach from reality and drift along in The Void. I capitalize its name out of respect and recognition of a significant process that needs to take place in order to heal and know yourself more intimately. I was honored to perform at The Compassionate Friends 36th National Conference in Boston's Sheraton Hotel this past month, where the topic of grief and coping with it is shared and discussed among hundreds of parents and professionals in the fields of Counseling and Psychology. Keynote speakers included Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley a well-known (and very special!) bi-coastal mother/daughter team who host the remarkable Open to Hope radio and the Grief Relief cable T.V. shows.
In my own life, I have come to understand grief as a spiritual response to loss of any kind. I'm not talking about sadness. If sadness is a wave, grief is the undertow. Most of us are able to swim or paddle our way out of waves, strike our feet against the bottom and make it back to shore. We may be scared and spent, gasping for air, but we feel alive-maybe even invigorated by a brush with death. In The Void, we are numb. It seems as if we are just passing through life, lost and forgotten. While some people grieve the loss of a loved one, others may grieve the loss of a marriage, relationship, job, pet, or assets; because we attach our own identity to the people and things that we love, we can also lose ourselves, which compounds any other loss. It's when we lose our selves that we enter the fathomless unknown of The Void. The Sea Of Who Am I. Believe me, I know it can be bigger than any ocean on this earth.
Everyone's process will be different, but here is one thing that helps me to endure, to "learn my way" out of The Void. The Book of Changes, an ancient Chinese text considered to be one of the oldest books in the world, translated around 1,000 BC. It is centered on the ideas of the dynamic balance of opposites, the evolution of events as a process, and acceptance of the inevitability of change. I found this passage recently and it gave me strength:
"Endurance is a state whose movement is not worn down by hindrances. It is not a state of rest, for mere standstill is regression. Endurance is rather the self-contained and therefore self-renewing movement of an organized, firmly integrated whole, taking place in accordance with immutable laws and beginning anew at every ending. The end is reached by an inward movement, by inhalation, systole, contraction, and this movement turns into a new beginning, in which the movement is directed outward, in exhalation, diastole, expansion." (Systole and diastole refer to activity in the heart)
Any any given point in our lives, we will be challenged to endure loss. If we can define The Void as a state of endurance, knowing that it is a movement inward that is ultimately self-renewing, we can emerge intact and with an expanded awareness of who we are. I believe that we are not passing through life. It is life that is passing through us, always bringing us information. We are like fine filters, able to retain or release whatever is valuable or necessary for fulfilling our individual destiny. If you are waiting to exhale right now, that's okay. Be gentle, stay with your thoughts as they lead you to your center. In your lifetime, you may experience more than one passage through The Void. Know that you are not regressing, and that an answer is trying to be heard.
It sure helped me to write this….I hope it helped you to read it.
Until Next Time