Reflections on Emptiness

by Arnold De Villa
July 16, 2012

I have a homework assignment. I need to do a research on sterile body cavities, empty body parts that are clean. Besides the cavity in my brain, empty but not necessarily clean, I truly do not know where to begin. This reminds me of the time when I had to write about the quasi-existential reality of nothingness. You know, the one that existentialist philosophers like Martin Heidegger ruminated upon like cows. I realized back then that the discourse on emptiness was so complicated it sounded as if it were something. The fact was: I wrote nothing else except about the hole in the middle of a doughnut. It was my paramount metaphor, the only argument I can muster to defend my seemingly quixotic proposal. Back then, although Krispy Crème or Dunkin Doughnuts were not yet conceived, I actually envisioned the reality of a “doughnut hole”. My gastric juices are flowing.
Back to my assignment about sterile body cavities, I found five. They are the cranial, vertebral, thoracic, abdominal and pelvic cavities; hollow spaces within our bodies that house organ systems that keep us alive. Without those empty crevices assumed clean and uncontaminated, human existence would forever be at the risk of being smothered by miniscule critters from another kingdom: virus, bacteria, fungi and protozoa.
I am convinced that emptiness is a vital component that seeks to fill the voids of a significant human existence. Like the silence in a song, the occasional absence of light or the black space of the galaxy, emptiness may not be visible, palpable or tangible. Yet we need them to understand so many things that we perceive without sight, things we hear without sound, and things we feel without touch. It is from rational emptiness that intuition works best. It is from factual emptiness that we started to gain our first knowledge as a child. And it is from moral emptiness that our values commenced to become our own.
So from the foolishness of a doughnut hole to the physiological science of sterile body cavities, this philosophy of emptiness probably makes a little bit more sense than those doctrines emerging from existentialist theories. The fact that it is boring is like a doctrine, but the possibility of deriving further intellectual creativity is also plausible.
It has always been my intent to write and read on things that stretch the mind. For those who still remain meandering across my lines, some of you are scratching your heads, some are shaking their heads, some are nodding while others are about to leave. When everyone else has started to snore and sleep, there will be souls awake who detest sleep. They may be writing and rewriting equations, formulating and designing codes, drafting a Pulitzer prized article or jotting down the first dialogue for the next noble prized literary piece. For many of them, ideas started while staring on an empty space coming from an amorphous point. And I should add that they are sterile; not the one that suggests infertility, but the one that implies cleanliness.
We sometimes need to be empty. We always need to be clean. And cleanliness is not merely the absence of grime. It is also the presence of purity, the paradigm of innocence, and the benchmark for an intellectual curiosity. “Why, what, how and when” are portals to thoughts that could create the next stage of evolution. And that next evolution starts from something that is not yet there, an active emptiness earnestly in search for something to contain.
For those of you whose employment is located along the aisles of cubicles and open-spaced work stations, I know you sometimes complain about chicanery: empty talk about the weather, politics and sports, the ones that are plagued with clichés, slang or urban jargon. You have all the right to complain. There are indeed empty talks deprived of any sense, words that float as products ritualistic human transactions. They are more destructive than creative if allowed to gallivant.
The roads out of the window I can see from are almost empty. Some of the streets light are turned off. There is no moon tonight and the stars are somewhat covered with dark clouds. I look back at my computer. There used to be an empty electronic white space waiting for the right scribble. Now there is a half-filled second page waiting for some significant specks of thoughts to spill.
Did you know that some foreign banks with offices in Manila are closing? Their brick and mortar operations will be bundled with other assets and sold to the highest offer. Some say that this is due to the economic crisis in Europe while others claim that the economic stand still in America is the main culprit.
Tomorrow we will discuss about the sterile cavities ubicated throughout our bodies. Some of these parts will have natural flora, and some could morph out into something. Pretty soon, my homework assignment should be rewritten into an electronic paper. They are not worth the wrinkled folds on our forehead.
Summarizing things, there is more to a doughnut than what we see through the hole. It comes in different shapes, colors and fillings. Doughnuts come with holes and some look more like a sweetened bun.
And now that I have passed my sleep time, many have started to write down the edges of things. I am a couple of inches away to end my day and meet a dead line. My mind is commencing to have a negative emptiness, the one that is sometimes a symptom of dementia.
Helen Keller once said: “Once I knew only darkness and stillness…my life was without past or future…but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness and my heart leapt to the rupture of living”.
And M. Scott Peck wrote: “We cannot let another person into our hearts or minds unless we empty ourselves. We can truly listen to him or truly hear her only out of emptiness”.
And with these, I end, hopefully transforming the emptiness I started with something that could be filled up.
Enjoy the rest of summer!