“On the fifth day, which was a Sunday, it rained very hard. I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.”Mark Haddon
When I was empty and had nothing left to give I sat quietly.
Then I gathered myself up with reassuring words to myself, or the hugs of my beloved, and I kept on going.
I kept giving.
And each time I found that there was still a little left inside me. Each time I thought to myself I will stop soon, and find a way to replenish.
But there was no time to stop. Until suddenly, there was.
I sat empty.
But it was a different kind of emptiness.
I was too numb to cry.
Too numb to even think.
I sat some more.
Now I was bone dry on the inside – more than empty. Hollowed out from loss and grieving and the giving of that warmth that had been inside me. To my shock I found that the ordinary things I always turned to could not fill me up – not books or hot baths or hugs or music or food or the company of good people…
What was I to do?
My body knew, when my head did not.
Three things filled me up again.
Sleep was one.
Solitary walks another.
And my breath was the third.
Following my breath into and out of my body. Letting it soothe me and quieten me.
Ah, said my breath. We are still here. And my breath connected me to the pulse and flicker of my heart in my veins. We are still here, said my heart. I kept on breathing. My heart kept beating. Stillness claimed me and filled me too, and in the stillness I found space and peace and a quiet strength.
I was never empty. I had just lost my way home to that place within, and lost, I bounced off the walls of my life until breathing brought me back to centre once more, and that certain connection to all things.
No words were needed. No prayers. No rituals or meditations. Just the sacred power of my breath, moving in and out of my body, until that was all there was.