An unanswered question leaves a gap. Human nature tends to bridge gaps but sometimes it can have the size of an abyss. I find the idea of an infinitely big (or small, for that matter) unexplored space quite intimidating, because once you overcome the fear of the unknown, this void might eventually become a comfortable space, a home.
A friend of mine asked me a question some 15 years ago that profoundly changed my notion of self and created an abyss in which I have been living since.
“Of all the things, you do in your life, what is the one thing you do best?”
I remember clearly the feeling of panic and insecurity as I was trying to uncover that thing. After few minutes, I gave a very unsatisfactory answer: “I think I’m very good at learning”. In my mind, this concept was loosely defined as “learning from everything that surrounds me, learning from people, from art and from books, recognizing, summarizing and abstracting the core intent of the given message or experience”. Quite abstract, right?
In the following days, I found myself often trying to rewind my memory and uncover my hidden talents, but I would always come back to the same idea. So, I started to live with it, hoping that as I become more experienced and skilled the answer will improve and become more defined and satisfactory.
Today I’m still here, in this void I call home. However, I learned that this gap is not an absence, but the space of infinite possibilities, free of constraints, and visible limits, contaminated only with fear of entropy. And it took me just 15 years to realize that this gap is mine, and I can shape it the way I want, instead of just aimlessly wondering through its labyrinths.
I gazed into the abyss, it gazed back into me1Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil: “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee”. Today we finally understood each other.
And you, my friend, who stumbled upon my friendly void, welcome and make yourself at home.
photo | hermitage of Santo Spirito a Majella, Abruzzo, Italy