Giving The Void a Good Tickle
When the urge to jump is overwhelming
Perhaps you’ve felt it before. The beckoning of something sinister and utterly terrifying. Maybe you were standing at the edge of a cliff after a long hike, looking out over the vastness when a voice inside your head whispered, “Why don’t you jump?”
You don’t want to jump; the idea of jumping is terrifying, but you fear your legs will sweep you off the edge without permission. The real world gets fuzzy and you can see the other world.
The world where you jump.
And you know exactly what it would feel like to fall.
I’ve had to sit down in moments like this, because I don’t trust my body to remain under my control.
In my experience, it normally manifests when I’m standing somewhere very high, because I’ve had a fear of heights for many years. Other people experience it in all kinds of different ways. The idea to jump in front of a train is an example that gets thrown around a lot.
However, whatever the clothes it wears, it’s always characterized by an immediate urge to dip your toe into destruction. You know chaos will follow, you know unimaginable suffering is the only result, but your brain flirts with the idea for a moment.
It turns out there’s a name for this whole dealio.
It’s The Call of the Void.
Thanks society for giving it such an ominous name. That is super duper helpful. You could have called it the Nurple Noodly Legs Syndrome, but you had to keep up the mystique. You had to impose existentialism upon us.
Related: French people call it l’appel du vide. Is it less scary when you don’t understand the words?
Freud wanted to call it The Death Drive, but that wasn’t frightening enough for popular imagination. Also, The Death Drive isn’t a strictly accurate definition.
Because it turns out there isn’t a strong connection between having this experience and having suicidal thoughts. Most who hear the call aren’t seduced by it, but rather repulsed. They step back or sit down or do whatever it takes to reduce the sensation. When The Void comes knocking, we’d rather slam the door.
Which makes one wonder if a purpose of The Call is to protect us from The Void. It asserts its presence as a way of reminding us we don’t want to taste what it is serving. In a weird way, the The Call of The Void keeps us safe. It delays the ultimate confrontation.
Because living in the nonVoid is pretty great.
I could just leave it there and we’d all feel a lot better about things, but part of me wonders if there are those who have listened…
Those who didn’t step back when the call came.
Those who took the jump.
It’s not like they can relate their experiences back to us.
So we can’t be sure it doesn’t happen.
I wonder what The Void told them.
Maybe I’m getting an idea for a horror movie script… DON’T WRITE IT; I’LL WRITE IT! Don’t you date steal my idea. 😒
Wait, did Alfred Hitchcock already write it?
Damn him. 🙁
Many of us struggle with The Void at some point in our lives. It’s hard to ignore that voice. Maybe the time has come to reduce its power over us. Not get rid of it entirely, because it clearly serves a purpose. But, maybe we could zhush it down a bit? (Can you zhush things down?)
So, I’m renaming The Void.
Hello, Void. You don’t get to be The Void anymore.
Instead you will be known as…. Tim.
Reader, next time you’re standing at the cliff’s edge and dark thoughts start infiltrating your brain, that’s just Tim. Tim’s totally normal. Tim calls from time to time, but you don’t need to let him scare you. He means well.