It’s not that I don’t have stuff I could be doing. There is that list of things I need to do every week: laundry, clean house, grocery shop. And then there is the quilt to finish, the pickles to make with the baby cucumbers I bought yesterday at the farmers’ market, the rail fence to paint if only the rain would stop today. Inside my head there is a list of things I want to do that aren’t written down, all of that chatter….all of it…can’t fill the void I feel this morning as I walk through a sleeping house in the still, dark morning. I can’t graft or transplant something into that space. I can’t Spackle over it. It isn’t meant to be occupied with chores of crafty projects. It isn’t a space you fill from the outside.
The void is grossly misunderstood. We think the mysterious black void threatens to swallow like a crouching beast ready to devour. Or so I fear. I try to avoid it, ignore it, distract myself from it. And what I realized this morning is that I have it all wrong. It is not a black hole into which we will vanish, it doesn’t consume. The void gives birth. Out of the void comes creation like an infant that is both whole and yet not. What is born must develop and grow to truly become its intended and final state. The void is the expectant space a woman feels just before she conceives and that slowly fills as her baby grows. The void is the space a writer senses lurking in the shadows out of which comes a character with a story and a voice. The void is the blank canvass set upon the easel mocking the artist surrounded by paint and brushes; it is the block of granite begging for the chisel. The image instantly materializes into the artist’s head who begins the passionate race of releasing that vision. And like a newborn that consumes a mother’s every waking moment, what comes from the void requires nurturing, sustenance and security or it fails to thrive. The world can be an inhospitable place and so ideally, if the void presents you with a gift you must accept the responsibility for what is born.
The writer waits expectantly for another character to arrive with a story to tell and is frustrated and bewildered when nothing arrives. He sensed an arrival and came to meet the train only to be left standing on the platform alone. The writer’s block crushes. What we fail to see….what I have failed to see…is that I went to the train station thinking I was picking up someone, when I was really meant to pick up a package, just a package. In my distraction, I willingly accepted the package and gladly brought it back to the house. I missed that the package was the intended arrival all along. There was no new character coming out of the void. The house came out of the void. And only one gestation can happen at at time. Once a woman conceives, she must give birth to THIS child before she can conceive again. In this space, time is linear and allows only once gestation at a time.
I am the expectant mother, heavy and waiting for labor to start. It’s been a hard pregnancy, a dangerous time and I’m tired, excited but really, really tired. I’m not sure if I can find the energy to get through this birth. And then I realize, if I can’t do this on my own naturally, if I exhaust myself and the birth gets dicey, there are others close at hand who will take charge and make it happen. I have no fear that I risk my own life. I also know what is to arrive is strong and scrappy. And while labor can seem like an eternal time warp, it is rarely protracted, once it starts it simply plows forward with a momentum pushing at it from inside the void. And in the end, I will have my house….my home.
So of course I’ve had writer’s block. Seeds cannot be planted in a garden on the cusp of fruition. A womb occupied with the bumps and movements of a full-term infant cannot conceive another. The new character on the other side of the veil wanting to pass through the void must wait until I give birth to this baby I have right now.
Fertility manifests a variety of ways. I may not conceive and give birth to any more human children but I am giving birth in other ways….and I’m not finished yet, not by a long shot. My sister gave birth to her first child and literally from the delivery room, she turned to her husband and said…..”I want to have another one.” So do I. It won’t be another child. It won’t be another house. But I am open to the creative energy offered to me from beyond the void and I will accept whatever is presented and promise to be a good steward.