The Missing Void

I’d make a good monk.

In fact, I often fantasise about a reality in which I ran away to live in solitude and dedicate myself purely to the pursuit of spiritual understanding. Even as a non-religious kid, the idea of becoming a Christian nun was oddly appealing to me.

I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time in acseticism and isolation. Often avoidant asceticism and isolation. I enjoy it, and adapt easily to it. And the idea of the asceticism and isolation being virtuous has enraptured and raised suspicion in me in equal measures over the years. It’s an awfully good excuse to run away from all my irrational fears and places of deepest discomfort…

Right now, however – quite in contrast to my previous post advocating my most extroverted self, and quite in contrast to frustrated desire for new people and conversations and stimuli I’ve been feeling throughout this pandemic – I’m not confused or ambivalent towards the idea of asceticism and isolation. I crave it wholeheartedly. To turn everything off, and sit in fertile silence. More completely than I ever have before.

I’ve let too much of my world become noise, and I want to tune back into meaningful sound – be it bold and brave or light and sweet. But first of all, most of all, I want Nothingness.

Becoming better than fine

I wasn’t raised to be a particularly good person. I was raised to be fine, I guess; I was polite, I minded my own business, I kept out of trouble. Even if the trouble was where the virtue was at. And especially if the trouble was actually just getting caught. But the focus was more on looking after oneself than anyone else, and I grew up believing essentially that I was living in a relatively unsafe and scarce world, where a step out of bounds to aid another was probably a risk not worth taking if you didn’t really have to.

I didn’t give it much thought. We don’t normally give our childhood programming much thought.

An example of a really mundane, vaguely lazy, vaguely selfish, fine-I-guess thing I never questioned was when I collected a shopping trolley and it had rubbish in – receipts, empty bags, wrappers, whatever. It was a very routine occurrence, and I would very routinely transfer the debris from my trolley to the next trolley and move on.

Then one day I went shopping with my boyfriend of the time, at the age of 26, and he watched me do this and said why wouldn’t you just put it in the bin? And I didn’t know. I just thought that’s what you did. And I think it is, largely, what you do, if you’re a fine-I-guess sort of person, which I think most of us are. Hence the receipts and wrappers and bags being there in the first place. But I’d never thought about it.

I have spent quite a lot of time, by this point, studying good people, and the decisions they make. I’ve learned a lot about being better than fine, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. A good deed actually requires me to override my programming most of the time, and that’s if I even notice the opportunity. I probably still miss a lot.

Wouldn’t it be nicer if being good was just instinctive? If that’s just what i thought living was?

I bought my son some litter picking gloves. He was very excited. I think we’ll make it a thing.