Something unseen slips. Shifts. Cracks. A zone of fractures. A fault. A displacement. A discontinuity. Something slow becomes something seismic. Everything quakes. Everything breaks. Docility gives way to catastrophe. And we are left alone in the wake. Sifting through the wreckage, the remnants, the residue. Wandering the vacancies and apparitions. “The most painful moments in life expand us”, Matt Haig says, “And when the pain leaves, space remains.”
In the places where the ache and grief press in further than we thought we could go, deeper than we thought we had the capacity to hold, amidst the emptiness and loss, we find refuge. We notice the unhindered sky. The breathable expanse. A clearing where once there was none. An opening within the uncertainty, between the question and it’s mark. A place of hope, ‘perhaps’, and longing. A place of waiting and whispers, a place of richer listening. Where we can know the touch of our truest expectations and learn the tender textures of our hearts. We discover, as Lao Tzu says, that “The spirit of life never dies.” That “It is the infinite gateway to mysteries within mysteries…Always elusive, [but] endlessly available”.
This new nothingness isn’t vacuous. It’s pregnant with it all. “[E]mpty yet inexhaustible,” Lao Tzu says, “it gives birth to infinite worlds.” Incalculable values between points vacillating wildly. A flicker of here and somewhere else. Being and Nothing, toggling rapidly. A blurring back and forth between immeasurable possibilities “always present within you”.
Scared and small and lonely, but we are made of things un-selfed. Objects never exhausted by our relations. Elements and particles and scars. Amalgamations of yearning sinew. An unfolding never fully formed. An in-breaking that never arrives. Heliocentric beings on a wandering planet, orbiting between the future and the past, between now and then. The direction we are always going, the place we always are. The present hurt we travel away from, the future healing that happens now. The sacred history of light and wonder converging all at once. Somewhere in the devastation there is emergence. Where hope and pain join hands to speak. Where there is room enough to move and stretch ourselves. Space enough to start anew.
“[T]he trick to dealing with an irreparable part of your life”, Mark Manson says, “is to stop trying to repair it”. Somethings can’t be mended. Some damage can’t be reversed. But you can take back the space your were given, the site of the devastation. You can repurpose the detritus and debris. You can begin to build something new.
“Nature also has a way of recycling the building blocks to create new life”, Bryn Nelson says. Every cell eventually succumbs to silence, but all their parts reform into something else. There is an atomic energy and will and persistence that keeps reverberating through everything. Creation is a process of reclamation and reuse, and we must do the same.
“Life is like a recycling center,“ Anne Lamott explains, “where all the concerns and dramas of humankind get recycled back and forth across the universe.” Nothing will ever be what it was. Nothing will ever be the same, but you can make something different. You can become something changed. We can choose how to use the space.
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