Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Empty Self

I recently read Love Your God with All Your Mind by J. P. Moreland for a work assignment. I saved the book for last because I wasn't convinced it was going to be the least bit interesting. I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I ordered my own copy so I can read through it again, more slowly, underlining and writing in the margins, etc.

In the book I came across the concept of the "empty self" and I was fascinated (pages 88-96). The empty self is defined as "inordinately individualistic, infantile, narcissistic, passive, sensate, hurried and busy, and has lost the art of developing an interior life."


Yeah, some of that won't make sense without the rest of the book, but let me tell you I felt like it nailed all the things I dislike about my life these days right to the wall.

Here's a bit I copied down from the book:  "The empty self has deep emotional emptiness and hunger and has devised inadequate strategies to fill that emptiness. Therefore, a frenzied pace of life emerges to keep the pain and emptiness suppressed. One must jump from one activity to the next and not be exposed to quiet for very long or the emptiness will become apparent."

Oh my gosh, that's my life. Especially my life for the last year. I have to wonder if that is part of the reason I am questioning what I did last year in school as if I've never done this teaching thing before. I threw myself 150% into the school year last August, on the heels of a season filled with hospice/dying/funeral/estate business/estate sale/saying goodbyes/etc., because I didn't want to deal any more than I had to with the pain of grief. I went crazy, trying to do every idea I came up with, planning grandiose reorganizing for summer vacation, buying books for myself and my students as if we were starting a library from scratch. It was frenetic. It was frantic. It was obsessive. It was like an out-of-body experience, like someone else was living those experiences so I don't have them to draw on this year.

I don't want to live that life, that pace any more. I don't want to be empty in that way. It's leaving me a little lost regarding the start of this school year and how it's going to look, but I have faith that things will all come together. The larger battle will be not falling back into that trap, that pace, that emptiness again.

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