By Jack Canfora
Trigger Warning: this post has no content. Not literally, obviously. I mean, the very words “this post has no content” proves that there IS content. I mean, there’s nothing in this post in terms of, well, anything. It’s a blank canvass, minus the blankness and the canvass. This piece is pure Zen, but without the Zen part. It’s, for all intents and purposes, Zenless.
That should be clear at this point. But I don’t mean “nothing” in the smoking cigarettes in a Paris cafe and romanticizing the vacuum that we all must face. Well, maybe a bit. But that’s not its central thrust. I come not to bury nothingness, but to praise it. Full disclosure: you can’t bury emptiness. Which, just taken on its own terms, sounds vaguely profound. But I’m here to reassure you it isn’t. It is, in fact, nothing.
As usual, The Beatles were right: “Nothing is real.”
Don’t get me wrong: too much of nothing, assuming there can be too much of something that doesn’t exist, is problematic. Paradoxically, I’ve found when I have nothing to do for too long, that nothing corrodes into an interiority which is quite unpleasant. So too much nothing becomes something if you’re not careful.
But, just the right amount of nothing, which is something I find, well, hard to find (hard to find being one of nothing’s primary characteristics) is a wonderful tonic for the soul (assuming the soul is something). Today, for no reason I can think of, the relentless inner monologue that normally pinballs around my head has taken a brief intermission. For the sheer disquietude of that I can only liken it to a snake eating its own tail in a documentary narrated by Gilbert Gottfried. By the way, there is a word for a snake eating its own tail: ouroboros. Isn’t that something?
But not today. Today the vast presence of absence fills me with calm, or, more accurately I guess, drains me of uncalm. Which I don’t think is a thing. Not for nothing, but I know what you’re thinking (I think). You may be thinking: “But Jack, you ruggedly handsome thing, this whole post is so achingly self-conscious, the idea that nothing is happening in your head is ridiculous. Nothing worthwhile? Sure. But surely something’s going on up there.”
Ouch. First of all, stop objectifying me. And…you may well be right. However, today, where I live, it’s gloriously sunny and warm, but not hot, and the leaves are starting to put on a show, and I, for once, am content to just watch them fall softly to the ground. And I’m happy, at least for the moment, to be contented with that.
And that’s not nothing.