Empty

Ann is a young bright girl. She works as an informatics engineer in a widely acclaimed MNC. She likes her job, she gets to learn a lot. She walks to work every day, and on some days she helps blind people cross the road. “Bless you dear child”, they often say. She smiles and says “thank you, you have just made my day”.

That is the type of girl Ann is, always helping people, always holding the door, smiling at strangers, giving away her seat on the train, lending an ear to a troubled friend, always being polite, always being kind. It is not that she doesn’t get angry, but she knows better than to let anger, and jealously, and hatred, and gluttony, and sloth, she knows better than to let all these vices get the better of her.

“Ann is so wonderful and so helpful,” her colleagues often say.
“Ann is so sweet and dutiful,” her relatives concur.
“Ann is just the best person to be around,” her friends declare.

On her way back from work every day, Ann visits a café, has a cup of coffee and smokes two cigarettes. She doesn’t leave a tip, the owners don’t mind, she is there every day, so it’s fine. Besides, ever since she started to visit the café, their number of regular customers has increased. Ann has this charisma that attracts people. So the owners really don’t mind her not paying the tip.  They would even give her free coffee sometime, if she only asks. But she would never, and they know that.

girl coffee cafe smoking
After having coffee, Ann heads back to her apartment. It is on the 6th floor. She likes to sit in the balcony in the evenings and read a book, or listen to some songs, or watch a movie. But all of these things she does in the balcony. She hardly spends any time in her apartment. She doesn’t like it much. It is just a room. And it is small. And empty. Just like her life.

She has no money, no, Ann has very little money. Once upon a time, she had the chance to turn her life around, she could have picked up a high paying job at a bigger firm, but back then she chose to listen to her heart and in all honesty, like she often regrets, it quite didn’t work out that well. Every evening she spends 15 minutes browsing through social networks and looking at the photos of big apartments, and fancy cars, and exotic holidays, her schools friends now own and take.

Today evening, she hits a like on a photo which Tony has uploaded 6 hours ago. It is a picture of a piano he recently added to his plush drawing room.

Tony’s plush living room is sparsely decorated. But whatever little furniture it does hold, all of that furniture is high-boutique-end custom made. Tony drives a fancy black car to work, the one that accelerators to a high number in just under a few seconds, you know the type, sleek body, killer looks, much like Tony himself. Tony spends a lot of time in the gym, and jogging in a park by the sea, he goes swimming and kick-boxing.

A normal work day for Tony is meeting with venture capitalists, industrialists, sometimes even politicians, zeroing in on start-ups to invest it, or companies to buy, or bad loans to sell off. Every decision that Tony takes impacts tens of thousands of lives.

“Tony can pull off any deal,” his bosses say.
“Tony is your crisis guy, he is the one with solutions”, his co-workers boast.
“Tony is so great in bed,” all the pretty women confess.

man-alone-rain-standing-bench.jpg
In the evenings, Tony hangs out with some of the most good-looking and well-groomed people of the city, posing casually for group photographs and keeping a close watch on the number of likes each of his posts garner. Today evening, his 17th notification says that Ann has liked a week old photograph of a limited edition dragonheart-wood piano he had recently managed to buy after a lot of hassle.

“Sir, would care for a refill?,” a waiter prods.
“What?”, Tony asks, pulled back into the present. Ann used to be his friend in school. She was a simple sweet girl. Everyone loved her. Everyone wanted to be her.
“Your glass sir, it is empty”.
Just like my life, Tony thinks.

Tony takes a refill and continues to browse through his newsfeed. He sees that Adam has checked in a theatre nearby. He drops him a message – it’s been a long time, lets meet old friend.

Ting goes Adam’s phone and he sees Tony’s message. Adam is friends with both Ann and Tony. He knows about the empty lives they lead. A long time ago they used to date, their lives weren’t so empty then. Or that’s what they felt. But Adam knows that emptiness is just a relative concept. Like most other concepts which come in pairs – happy-sad, love-indifference, rich-poor, ugly-pretty, high-low, empty – fulfilling. Just like how once in a while everyone is sad, or ugly, or high, or low, thus once in a while everyone faces that feeling of feeling empty. It’s quite alright. We are all going to die anyway.

Adam is a nihilist. His philosophy is empty. Don’t listen to him.


That story has ended. Thank you for reading. I would love to hear about what you thought of it.

Also, here is a little poem I tried to write on today’s Daily post prompt

Empty your head, get rid of doubt
what is all that insecurity about?
Think big thoughts, why the hesitation?
Follow them with solid immediate action.

Empty your mood, why the unease?
Lack of conviction is an incurable disease
Empty your words, why be the cynic?
No one likes a pessimist, asinine critic

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Author: pecsbowen

reader.philosopher.writer

9 thoughts on “Empty”

  1. I love the way this story unfurled, picking up the next character at a links that binds to the previous one.

    At the same time it illustrates their individuality amazingly – descriptive but maintain relevance with the context throughout 🙂

    Like

      1. Dear Miss Bowen,

        Thanks for being eager to return the favour. I appreciate your willingness. However cliche it may appear, one should not refrain oneself from complimenting art.

        ‘To define is to limit’ – you say yourself (so did Mr. Wilde once) and your stories are diversified art in themselves for which any definition of genre would lay obsolete.

        Moreover IITian counterparts are rare species on this blogosphere and it seems I’ve spotted an Unicorn.

        With her enlightening trail, she could guide me on my book-journey though, titled ‘Zeroth Cheat Code’ – Lumos!

        Turnin’ Chester (or it’s just Chandan)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hey Chester,

          Those were Mr. Wilde’s words, I came to the same conclusion a couple of years back. Sir just put them together a long time before me.

          I tried to google about your book, also browsed your blog, the result was just a very old post.

          Whatever your queries, drop me a mail – preeti@businessbrevity.com, I will guide in any capacity I can.

          Like

  2. Aim : To define and solve emptiness.

    Motivation : Why should we try to solve emptiness at all ? As Adam says (and despite the author’s caution about his nihilism), emptiness is perhaps just a phase, just something to get over with, to not think about; in favor of thinking about other things. If only we had that much control over the functioning of our minds. If you have that much control, if you can disregard emptiness without any damage to your creativity, all good, and you should skip this comment. Else, read on. As otherwise, emptiness can cripple a person’s mind, significantly reduce their creativity and powers of depth, and cause one to waste countless precious moments just fighting a battle of attrition in one’s own mind. I think that should be enough motivation for the problem.

    Definition : Emptiness shall be defined as the absence of meaning. For that we must define meaning, which we shall now do. Meaning is the force within a person that moves them to maximize their life in each moment. Solving problems of great and universal importance in informatics (as Ann does) or being a stud entrepreneur like Tony or caring for your friends and family (as a lot of people do) – these things do, in fact, hint at meaning; and one would then say that the lives of Ann, Tony and of a lot of us are actually not as empty as they appear. As empty as they seem, the emptiness can always get worse (and hence the relativity mentioned by the author). And yet, these lives are not at the pinnacle at meaning either. One can always do better. One can always lead a more meaningful life. And perhaps increasing meaning (and reducing emptiness) is not to be done across a single dimension of ‘more’ or ‘less’ but across several dimensions.

    Solution : What are these dimensions ? They are perhaps too many and too varied to even list. However, let us attempt a description of the most important ones. Thankfully, a big part of this work seems to have already been done in this post – http://calnewport.com/blog/2010/04/09/corrupted-callings-the-subtle-difference-between-finding-your-lifes-work-and-loving-your-life/. The author mentions three key dimensions of meaning –
    Autonomy — control over how you fill your time.
    Competence — mastering unambiguously useful things.
    Relatedness — feeling of connection to others.
    If all three dimensions are very strong, then, the hypothesis goes, there will be a greater force inside us, and we shall not feel empty. This is up for debate (and I invite the reader to do so). I would guess that working on these three dimensions requires solutions that are highly customized to the reader’s life and times, and hence, it would be encouraged to think concretely about what one has and can do to increase the value in these dimensions (rather than what people seem to have and seem to do, and mimic it).

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    1. I should also state that the dimensions themselves in question are very personal, and should not be generalized. I mention Cal Newport only as an instance of a proactive attempt in this direction. There are of course people like Grigori Perelman and Paul Erdos who, at least in conventional terms, did not follow the practice of maximizing value in these dimensions, and yet their lives were far from empty. Again, emptiness is relative, as stated, even across dimensions! The mind game aspect is too strong to be neglected.

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