Shorts: The Call of the Void – (L’appel du vide)

You’ve had a great day at work. Perhaps someone complimented your appearance, or your hard work received the recognition you feel it deserves. You’re going home to your favourite meal, and since you’re ahead in all your chores, there is little to do but put your feet up, and relax the night away. You stand at the train station, as a light rain pours down, with a smile on your face as you think of all these simple delights that await you. At some point, you glance over, and see that a train is approaching. It is not your train, and it does not stop at this station so it’s going at a fairly high speed. And although you are happy, a coldness washes over you. You stare blankly at the lights on the front of the train. And from somewhere in the attic of your mind, you suddenly think, “Jump.”

It’s a thought and a whisper and a command all at once. “Jump… Jump onto the tracks. Right. Now.”

The train blazes by. It’s gone undisturbed. The train driver is still smiling, completely unaware of what you just thought about doing. You watch the train for longer than usual, before staring blankly ahead. What just happened? Why did you think that?

L’appel du vide. The Call of the Void.

A french term, referring to that feeling we get, even for a brief moment, where we just think – “I could do something terrible in every sense of the word right now. For no particular reason at all.”

It can range from the example I’ve given above, to thinking you could just crash your car into a tree while the kids argue in the back. Or perhaps that you could push your beloved friend over a mountainside as you both stand enjoying the view. It could be to cause damage to yourself, or to a loved one, or just generally do something horrible, like knocking an ice cream cone from the hands of a child, simply because you can.

While this is a scary thought to think about, and we often feel at our most insane in these moments, the good news is… we all have them. You are not bad. We’ve all thought about doing something like that, and sometimes frequently. But most importantly… it’s completely normal. You’re not saying you WILL do them, or even thinking you should. It’s just a combination of a sudden feeling of power revealing itself at an opportune moment. It’s a sudden realisation that in this moment, you have control, and a power to do anything, regardless of whether it’s good or not.

It’s actually beautiful in a way, because for a brief second, we feel truly empowered. It just manifest’s itself negatively, because thankfully we don’t often think these thoughts, and so we seize our brief moment to do so.

The next time you do have one of these moments, be comforted by the fact that it is so common place, the French have a name for it. Be comforted knowing the kindest people you know, have thought these things also. And be thankful that while you thought them, you did not do them.

Instead, watch the train, or the tree, or the shrinking mountainside go by, smile and laugh to yourself, “L’appel du vide…”

IT’S YOUR OWN FAULT

That feeling you get when you’ve let yourself down. It’s something else, isn’t it? The core fact that it’s solely you who is responsible for what you’ve done, and though you hope to turn to someone and deflect that feeling onto them, most likely those you love the most, you know that as a reasonable human being, you cannot. There is nowhere to turn,  but inwards. It’s your fault, and you’re disappointed.

It isn’t easy – because the more you feel the person responsible needs to be “punished”, to feel remorseful and to atone, the more you inflict that damage upon yourself. And that explosion of emotion inwards, is crushing. It should be noted you should never do this to any human being or anything living for that matter of fact, under any circumstances. So why do you do it to yourself? Your asking them to feel bad, and that person is you, and you feel worse, but you ask for more punishment – That’s sadism. Or masochism.

We’ve all been disappointed by our actions, and known someone who is disappointed in their actions, and when you have let someone down, all you want is retraction, for it to go away. You want forgiveness.

Give. Forgiveness.

If you do not, you are only inflicting more hurt upon a person. Unnecessary hurt – because they are already disappointed in themselves. They already understand the effect of their actions and are apologetic for them, so what are you trying to achieve? It’s one of the most unfair acts that you can take upon another living being, and we’ve all felt it when someone does not offer us forgiveness, and it’s horrible. You’re asking for people you care for, or people you respect, to accept you once more as not being perfect, and if they do not accept that, you feel small. Smaller than small. You feel insignificant. Deflated. Incapacitated.

If you were to pick yourself up, what would it matter since you’re so small.

That is not a feeling anyone should feel. To inflict this upon someone – that is a lack of kindness. Kindness is the greatest thing you can ever give, and you can give it in limitless quantities. Perhaps the only thing you can truly give in unlimited quantities. If you refuse to share, it is a selfishness like nothing else, for by sharing it you do not lose it.

Be kind. To others and to yourself. What you need to understand is that everyone too is not perfect, and so if anything, when you make a mistake you are most like those around you. You should be most accepted for the fact that you are flawed, for it is a trait of life. You may feel separated, but you are united with the rest of the human race. While others may feel shame for their mistakes, they may be unaccepting of it, or at least unaccepting to admit it, and so project that upon you as they see themselves as in higher standing, or wish to appear so. When really they are not. They are looking thought carnival mirrors. Do not concern yourself with these people. Do not be one of these people. They are toxic.

But what is most important to remember, is that the only person who can truly offer you forgiveness for your own actions – is you. While what you may have done is let yourself down, it’s important to know that the only action that is truly letting you down, is your punishment upon yourself and the sheer lack of forgiveness you have given upon yourself. You are human, you are particularly prone to mistake, because of your own awareness of it. If you are aiming for perfection, for a concept or of yourself – let that go. You’re comparing to a perfect idea, yet no thing perfect exists in nature. The very laws of physics and biology falter at times, they act erratically. So too will you. But since you are capable of imagining the perfect thought, you can aim to achieve it, but you never will. You are comparing your achievements to a reality that does not exist, and as always, comparison is the enemy of joy, and so you will cease to be joyful, despite your best efforts.

Disappointment in oneself comes with life, as do mistakes. But they are not something to be feared, to be consistent, or to be reverent. They are to be accepted, to be processed, and to be left behind, where they offered us improvement.

While it is fine to be disappointed with oneself, understand that the very fact that you are reflects kindly upon you, for you wish to be better. There are those who do bad, and are thankful for their iniquity to the world. You are actively sorrowful for your act, which by itself places you among the rest of the good in the world.

We all make error. We are all incapable of perfection.

And once you have realised that about yourself – Give. Forgiveness.