How you get something from nothing

Go back a few billion years and out of nothing our universe began. This concept is so hard for me to wrap my head around I’ve been reading a book, about scientific matters relating to our existence, for dumb, ignorant people who don’t want to be so dumb and ignorant anymore. Great I thought—science will answer everything. Turns out it doesn’t, but the idea that something can come out of nothing amuses me greatly and it’s on this indignant concept that this blog is birthed.

You see, I’m really just writing about nothing today.

But, nothing is exceedingly powerful; nothing is more fertile than emptiness. There was once a time when time didn’t even exist, there was no such thing as space and imagining the word as a kind of black dot hanging in the sky waiting for life to emerge is just ludicrous and quite frankly; incorrect. No words can describe this moment of creation, out of nothing, in a blinding spark, 98 per cent of the matter that is essential for creation emerged – in the time it takes to tie your shoe lases.

Nothing in today’s world can be alluded to as boredom, tedium, monotony and a kind of roominess in your time that must be filled with any number of irrelevant distractions. Nothing, quite simply, is seen as a black mark on the shiny exterior of the perfect presentation of our Facebook lives.

I didn’t have anything I particularly wanted to write about this week. Nothing I really wanted to share, so I decided to write about how nothing can be a good thing, and without it, without the space, the peaks and the troths of our whirlwind lives, we can’t have the solid. We can’t make sense of the something. The solid, or form of busyness, the entertainment, the distraction, the things. Nothingness is what brings this somethingness into focus.

The truth is, I did lot’s this week I could of wrote about. But I didn’t want to focus on the something. I wanted to focus on the pause, the full stop, the emptiness. THE NO THING.

Think of music and the beautiful notes that hang delicately on the straight ledger lines. The space in between is what brings the notes into focus. Think of the work you do, the evenings and weekends or however else your work is broken up, are the punctuation that gives meaning to what you do. The words I’m writing, the space means I can be understood. Whole books can be comprehended with thanks to the space, the nothing; the side of the coin that no one wants to appreciate, that many people are trying so hard to avoid.

Our culture wants us to celebrate something. Fill your lives with beautiful things, experiences, travel the world, do more, be more, drink more, eat more. You need this, this and this! Something will never revolutionise your life without an appreciation of the nothing. You will have so much something that soon you won’t have time for nothing. And what a shame that would be? The space that is so beneficial, which allows us to enjoy music and words on a page. Even conversations will become a monotone, inaudible hum. No space, no appreciation, no full stops punctuating our reality.

Stopping is the most important thing… This appreciation of nothing has never been there before for me. In the past I have wanted people, things and experiences to fill my time in the hope that I could bear the weighty pressure of living a meaningful life. And it’s always in the times of nothing, clinging and craving to the desire for something, that you can be sure that nobody is going to call. It’s in the moments of desperation, in anxiety and the contemplation of your own insignificance that this truth of nothing, really just being the other side of something, should be known.  Not judged, just known.

So how do you get something from nothing? I think understanding and deeply knowing this interconnectedness of nothing and something helps. A little intention maybe, some preparation in the nothingness so you can enjoy the somethingness without clinging to it when it ends. It will end, and you’ll fall harder than a 16 year old who’s just been introduced to their first love if you cling to this something—it is just an illusion.

Out of nothing, comes nothing is a fallacy that is a put down on everything to do with nothing. Sleep, rest, space, time, listening, pausing to think so you can speak without the mindless hum that I alluded to above, are so magnificently important that it shouldn’t be understated.

An excerpt from Camus in his wonderful book The Fall illustrates the dissatisfaction and exhaustion that can pervade with never stopping…

“It’s true: I was at ease in everything, yet satisfied with nothing. Each joy made me yearn for another. I went from one party to the next. There were times when I danced for nights on end, more and more intoxicated with people and life. Sometimes, late in those nights of dancing, slightly tipsy, my frenzy and the mad abandonment of those around me drove me into a rapture that was at once weary and satiated, so that it appeared to me, in the extreme of fatigue, that I finally understood the secret of life and the world. But by the following morning the weariness had vanished and with it the secret; so I was off again… In that way, I kept on running, always nourished, never full, not knowing when to stop, until the day, or rather the evening when the music stopped and the lights went out.” (Camus, 1956 pp.19-20). 

Next week. I’ll talk about something. I promise.


Photo credits

Anna Bromley: Light dots

John Wardell: Grand Central: Full stop sign

Christine: Nothinness

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