My Life Is So Empty (What a Wonderful Thing)

On my wrist I have a tattoo.  It’s very simple.   It’s the space symbol from a keypad, basically an elongated staple.  It is a mnemonic (a symbol to help in remembering something).  Sometimes I focus on the space between the two tips.  It reminds me to always allow space between an action and my reaction.  Other times I focus on the symbol as a whole, on the fact that it resembles an empty bowl.

Usually emptiness has a negative connotation.  It refers to the lack of something.  In the Buddhist tradition emptiness does not denote lack, it actually refers to the potential of everything.  What?!  How can emptiness mean everything?  Well, when you are handed an empty glass what can you do with it?  You could fill it with pop, with wine, with ice cream, with jewels, with poison.  That glass has the potential to be filled with anything you choose.  Think about that; the glass is empty, you make a choice then the glass becomes full.  You have changed the situation through your thoughts.  That’s pretty cool!  There’s a lot of power in that choice.  You can choose something that’s pleasurable like ice cream or something that’s dangerous like poison.  All of that power is in  your hands.

Can we use that power anywhere else?  What about, instead of controlling a physical object we try controlling a situation?  Think of a tough situation that you have experienced, could you have used the power of emptiness to change the outcome?  One of my tough situations is driving.  I ride a Spyder (a three-wheeled motorcycle).  I like to go fast, very fast, too fast.  When I get stuck behind a slow vehicle I get impatient and angry.  My heart races, I get flushed and I start swearing; the joy of the ride is gone.  Why ride if there is no joy?  I’ve taken the empty vessel of a ride and ruined it by filling it with anger and frustration.  What if I had chosen to slow down and enjoyed the view?  What details of the view might have enriched my life?  My ride would have been filled with joy rather than the poison of pointless anger.  That power was in my hands.

That power is in your hands.  Does that scare you?  Does it scare you that you have the potential to create anything?  It scares me.  Now I have to take responsibility for my choices.  I can’t blame outside circumstances for my current situation.  It also excites me.  I can harness that power, the power of emptiness to create the life I want.

I tend to be logical, scientific-minded.  If I’m going to believe something there better be some proof; I don’t take things on faith.  I started studying Buddhism when my marriage was ending.  I was lost and Buddhism seemed interesting.  That’s where I learned about the tenet of emptiness.   It sounded “right” to me but I still wasn’t fully sold on it.  Then I started reading “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” by Dr. Joe Dispenza.  In this book he introduces the reader to the quantum field.  Basically, scientists have learned that electrons do not have fixed positions.  Their location is based on potential.  It is only when the electron is observed for measurement that it exists in a specific location.  Wow!  The observer is causing the electron to come in to existence at a certain point.  The act of observation creates the reality of the location of the electron.

It seems to me that the Buddhist tenet of emptiness is another way of expressing the power of potential.  “All situations are empty until I choose what to fill the situation with” (Buddhist thought) is the same as “I create reality by making an observation” (quantum field).   I like that idea.  I like having the power to create the life I want by focussing on what I want.

I haven’t figured out how to fully use this power.  I still struggle with insecurity, with doubts about my self-worth.  I still wonder why we exist, what’s the point.  Becoming aware of the power of potential is one thing, actually using it to achieve my dream life is not a skill I have, yet.  I’m going to figure it out.  When I do, I will be sharing.  Have you figured this out?


It’s Always/Never About Me

I’ve been on a journey for a number of years now.  A journey of trying to figure out what the hell is the point of my life.

For many years, I was sure what my life would be like:  I’d raise the kids, they’d move out and give me grandkids, my husband and I would move to Brazil when we retired followed by my death at 94 years of age.

Of course, before most of these things happened came the “I love you but I’m not in love with you” speech (I still don’t understand what that means!)


The rest of my life would look nothing like I had planned.  “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” to paraphrase John Lennon.

Nothing was as I thought it would be.  My foundation had disappeared.  I felt like I spent my time jumping from ice floe to ice flow barely staying above the water.  I developed health problems, gained a ton of weight and became addicted to pain pills (all for another blog post).

I studied Buddhism, tried to meditate, read Marianne Williamson and Brene Brown.  I did counselling.  I talked to my friends.  I watched The Secret.

I learned that every situation was in my life because I had attracted it.  Every action I took and decision I made led to a consequence.  There is no single reality, it’s all in how I perceive things.  It’s always about me…..  What a wonderful sense of freedom!  Life was under my control.  No more blaming others, playing the victim.

Then I learned that it’s never about me.


But does that mean I’m not in charge of my life?  How can both of these things be true?  I’m confused!

So I did what I do best: I went quiet and I pondered this seeming contradiction.

I liked the idea of being in charge, of choosing what my life would be like.  I didn’t like taking responsibility for the argument I got into with the person who cut in front of me at the bank.  In that case, it was their fault.  They clearly have work to do on their anger issues.  That’s not about me.

In all my thought processes I was missing something, the glue that ties together “It’s all about me” with “It’s never about me”.  That glue is something called triggers.

Let’s use the example from above.  A person comes along and cuts into line.  This shows a lack of respect for others which will ultimately reflect back on that person.  That behaviour is not about me.

My reaction to that behaviour is; I’m triggered by his actions to respond in a way which reflects my issues.  There were other people in line who didn’t respond.  They weren’t triggered.

Here’s how it works:  when you see a person acting in a way that is disrespectful it’s not about you.  If you are triggered by their actions to act in a way which is disrespectful it’s all about you.

Ahhhh, conundrum solved.  Now I can get back to figuring out the meaning of life and what that has to do with the price of tea in China.