The Endless Heartbreak of Living Loss and Emptiness

Some unknown beauty.

Context: The Café

Beauty, like life, is a transient thing and the experience of it brings as much suffering as it does joy – an equation perhaps weighted to the darkness more than to the light and in the inevitability of the ends we all must face, this seems a certain truth. The sense of fragility and indefinable loss at the constant departure of life and love is, to me, the one binding experience we all share but rarely if ever feel emboldened to discuss. We are those implicitly emotional beings that are somehow too scared to demonstrate how we feel about our own life and subsequently spend our time wondering why we are endemically-oriented towards feeling so deeply and utterly dissatisfied and empty.

Poets’ loves and poets’ lives are similarly marked and inflected by the visceral, implicit tragedy of discontinuous presence and absence, by the gradual overbalancing of the runner and their tipping-over of control and into loss and affective immolation. The emptiness that the creative captures or represents is really nothing other than the essential emptiness that lies in all of us and that in these rare or precious moments of reflective, emotional authenticity percolates to awareness and into the shared worlds of words, images and communication.

An inspiration is always and already a sorrow-in-waiting because it will always, always leave us and the beauty of such longing is not – sadly or solely – in the aspiration to attainment, but in the consideration and haunted memories of emotional disassembly and the visceral desolation of loss. This momentum and indefinite self-propagation of emotional discontinuity is nothing more than an intimate human interpretation and experience of the general winding-down that is life and time, of the impossibility of regaining that which only ever really delivers it’s true currency and value to us upon it’s departure.

You might try to pretend that this is not (also) you, that you do not also bear this burden and all power and hope to your success on that fragile trajectory but this is just not how we are wired, how matter or energy or sentience and life itself functions. You can not defeat or master the loss and emptiness that absence and unrequited longing bring; you just can not measure or master the implicit and impending omnipresence of the unknowing nothingness that drives us all, in time, to dust.

My own heart is broken and constantly breaking, how else could I write?

3 replies on “The Endless Heartbreak of Living Loss and Emptiness”

Hi Mike — Thanks for your erudite analysis of my short story, “The Café”. I think your last two sentences came closest to capturing the essence of what I was trying to describe in my short story. My heart was not broken at the time of writing this, but it has been broken and mended so many times that my memory readily serves up the feelings of vulnerability and brokenness whenever I need them for a poem or story. Still, I think what I was trying to describe was a little more nuanced than what you suggested in your analysis. Given: there is a beautiful young woman. Also given: there is a young man, sensitive, a writer. Assertion: he is attracted to her beauty (there is no other reason apparent to us). Assertion: she appears not to be attracted to him (for reasons unknown). You assumed that we are “somehow too scared to demonstrate how we feel about our own life and subsequently spend our time wondering why we are endemically-oriented towards feeling so deeply and utterly dissatisfied and empty”, to whom should we demonstrate our feelings about our own lives? Do you think our young man should have demonstrated his attraction to the young woman’s beauty to the woman when the two were strangers? In the story, the young man obviously felt he had no right to impinge on the woman’s solitude, which was as sacrosanct to him as her beauty was. Yes, he might have gone over to her table and asked her what she was reading. Yes, she might have been aware of him and waiting for him to make the first move. There were myriad possibilities, but they all canceled themselves out so that the young man continued to be paralyzed into inaction, and the opportunities of the young man diminished with the dimming of the lights in the café. Finally, she disappeared into the night.
This was a fictional story that reflected actual life, not the fictional romantic kind of “life”.

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Hi Mike… my reflections were inspired by your story but were not necessarily only about it. We have all undergone heartbreak and in feeling it invoked in language it tends to trigger our own visceral responses. I wasn’t critiquing your work, merely departing on my own journey as a response to it, but I enjoyed it, regardless. Thank you – G.

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