A post about Nothing


The Nothing, from the film "The Neverending Story"

A friend told me about a useful piece of advice she once received from an instructor of hers:  “If you don’t know what to do, it’s a matter of URGENCY that you do something”.

I’m writing this post out of… nothing.  Feeling like I have nothing.  But I don’t mean that in some horrid way; I have plenty of good, valuable things in my life.  I don’t want more of most things, and am very grateful for what I do have. There comes to be a certain opportunity to sit back and think ‘what do I want for myself and for my life’.  You’ve got the resources and the opportunity… now what?  

For the majority of my life, a pathway was rather clear.  Go to college.  Apply for internships.  Do stuff with friends.  Run more often.  Go back to school. Learn a skill.  New hobby X.  Pursue project Y.  Pursue crazy project Z.  Bond with parents.  Figure out my retirement dream.  There is clearly never a chance to be bored.  Rather, the room for choice is there, the room to create… whatever.  Within work, choices exist too; within a set topical area, many are allowed to develop their career in a way they desire (certain industries are more amenable to this than others).  

It’s amazing how full and empty are so very closely tied to one another.  Sometimes choice is overwhelming.  Boundaries are a comfort.  I in no way mean to sound ungrateful for choice and opportunity, but rather that they can also be daunting.

I’m curious how people really figure out what utterly fills their nothing.  And not like “how do you find meaning in life”, but how did you or do you come about your passions?  And figure out which passions were the ones to really focus on and DO?  

I’ve had passions in the past, but have run out of steam lately.  Too much start/ not finish, that I hesitate to start things.  But the excitement still exists, and opportunity abounds.  I realize I need to start making something from the nothing with something before there’s some regret!  Again with the empty/ full thing being the same, because my life is on the outside full as can be… but there’s no one thing, so more so there is seemingly nothing.

Comically, what prompted me actually writing the post (I’ve been thinking about the concepts all week) was a Facebook quiz on “What Wizard of Oz character are you?”  There was a question about what one does in their spare time, or something like that.  One option was ‘Daydream’… and I didn’t pick it!!!  Years ago, I daydreamed in real belief of making those dreams a reality.  Not so much anymore.  I still have a nice, social, shiny life, no sob story here… but what about… not more, but something else.

So how did you find your something?


Labyrinths seem to be serendipitously finding me lately. First there was the random mention in a recent AAA magazine. Then a book I was reading mentioned it. The third appearance of a labyrinth I literally stumbled onto, and crystalized the point that labyrinths must have a special meaning for me right now. I was walking in Palo Alto at night and came across the labyrinth below, which I returned to later to photograph and walk through properly.

All Saint's Episcopal Church Labyrinth, Palo Alto, CA.

All Saint's Episcopal Church Labyrinth, Palo Alto, CA.

For some disambiguation between labyrinths and mazes, see Wikipedia. Basically, a maze in a puzzle where you try to get to a certain end point opposite where you enter, and there are tricks and turns, while a labyrinth is a single path to the center, also with turns, but you don’t get ‘lost’. Labyrinths also have a spiritual element, and are featured prominently in churches. Many you see nowadays are based off the labyrinth in the Chartres Cathedral in France. The labyrinth shown above is one of those.

The proper tour of a labyrinth consists of three parts: 1) the winding path to the center, representing the twists and turns in our journey of life, and how you are suppose to release them as you come to the center, 2) time spent resting and reflecting in the center, receiving what is there to receive, and 3) returning down the same path of life, but now joined with a Higher Power.

Interesting stuff for reflection. I would love to hear others’ experiences with labyrinths. They seem fortuitously brought into my life. I also have had the chance to walk the (same design) labyrinth at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Simply stunning.

Life assumptions

What if some of the things you assumed about your life were perhaps not true or meant to be.  How would you live your life differently?

If you knew you were in fact never to have children, would you care about your savings quite so much?  Where would you travel with all of those extra funds?

If you knew you would never be the top gun of your company, presuming that was your major career goal, what job would you do instead?  Explore something more creative, perhaps?

If you realized you had lost your faith, would you try to hard to keep out of hell?

The choices we make on a regular basis are informed by a certain “insurance” mentality.  Let me save a nest egg for my yet-to-exist children.  Let me not be totally honest with my boss because I shouldn’t burn bridges.  Let me not bask in the sun because I’ll be around long enough to get skin cancer.  I’m not talking about “risks” or “living life to the fullest”, but realizing how are preconceptions of our future life shape our every day decisions, today.

So that’s my homework for the next week– realizing what rules I’m unconsciously putting upon myself and for what reasons.  And assuming assumption x,y, or z is not true– what am I gonna do know that there are no boundaries?!?

The problem with being a scientist

The problem with being a scientist is that you are constantly gathering data and using it to fit whatever theory you may have.  If you are lucky, you do this only in your field of expertise.  If, however, you are like moi, then you apply this to your life.  This is BAD.

For example:

Theory: I am a bad dresser. (I don’t think this is true, just work with me)

Data Collection: My friends don’t compliment me on a new cute outfit.

Data Interpretation: I must be a bad dresser.

Alternate Theory that is more likely: My friends have no fashion sense so do not know to compliment me. (this is not true either)

Some might attibute this thought process to the fact that chicks over-analyze.  I argue that we have naturally scientifically attuned minds.  Thoughts?