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[ Void ]
03 June 2023

1―Events and Void

We experience many events in our lives, and all these events are created by humans themselves. Broadly, these events range from human relationships to systems like schools, exams, festivals, and birthday parties. In the continuum of these events, we often feel a sense of emptiness. Do you remember the feeling of disappointment you experienced on the bus ride back home after a field trip in elementary school, unable to sleep the night before due to the excited anticipation? At the end of a birthday party with shattered balloons and paper plates smeared with cake grease, you have felt the sensation that the excitement suddenly vanished as if it had all disappeared as you burst the balloons. We call this sense of void. People who have seen the Mona Lisa often feel a sense of void when they find it difficult to get a glimpse of the Mona Lisa amidst the large crowds. Like, how can the Mona Lisa, considered one of the greatest masterpieces of all time, be just a painting no larger than two handprints? This feeling occurs when the excitement of an event dissipates, when something highly anticipated turns out to be nothing special, or when you have achieved your goal but still feel a thirst. Humans, unable to live without events, continuously create them but simultaneously experience a sense of emptiness within them.
While writing such analytical pieces, a personal question arose within me. I distinctly remember feeling a sense of void when I was younger, so why has that emotion disappeared now? Do I believe it no longer exists? Am I ignoring it? I am certain I felt it when I was younger. Therefore, even though it may not be apparent as emptiness to me now, it undeniably exists, but I can confidently say it does not exist within my current self. To get answers about what void truly is, I delved into dictionaries.

2―Definitions of Void
Dictionary Definition 1. Devoid of anything, completely emptyDictionary Definition 2. Feel highly empty, desolate, and meaningless, perceiving things as worthless and devoid of significance.Dictionary Definition 3. In the philosophy of Laozi (Lao Tzu), the essential nature of the universe, formless and imperceptible, that cannot be seen or heard.

Dictionary Definition 2
Putting aside the past when wars seemed never-ending, humanity now stands at the pinnacle of millennia-long history, known as peace. We do not know when we might slip from this summit, but as Kim Young Ha said in ‘알쓸신잡(A mysterious dictionary of trivia that is useless to know)’, maintaining 50 years of peace in the history of humanity is a remarkable feat. He believed that the current era would be recorded as a time of peace in the distant future. What did we encounter at the end of the endless intertribal slaughters? Why did humanity choose peace after years of enduring such massacres?

Of course, there have been occasional civil wars in some countries, and the subsequent invasion of Ukraine by Russia disrupted global peace. How did the anxiety about the looming uncertainty of war, which could arrive at any moment and devastate everything, make them feel?

What did they find at the end of the cruel war that spared no one? What were their emotions for those who lost their families, husbands, children, or those who were fortunate enough to return victorious from battle? I dare to imagine that they must have experienced an overwhelming sense of emptiness beyond anything we can fathom in this current era.

It seems that the strong remnants of animalistic instincts that left the era of fierce territorial battles have passed. Humanity has now evolved into a more advanced species. We have ceased physical warfare and begun a battle of the minds. To put it in very positive terms, it is a reign of peace.

Living in this reign of peace, are we safe from emptiness? The answer is no. While we have moved past the horrifying age of killing and being killed in brutal wars, perhaps we have entered an even more cruel era – a time when we kill ourselves. Then, where exactly does the feeling of emptiness originate, and why does it come to us at all?

Dictionary Definitions 3 and 1
Carl Sagan wrote in ‘Cosmos’ as follows:“Human beings, born ultimately of the stars and now for a while inhabiting a world called Earth, have begun their long voyage home. Human beings, born ultimately of the stars and now for a while inhabiting a world called Earth, have begun their long voyage home.”

(Chapter I The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean)
“The nature of life on Earth and the search for life elsewhere are two sides of the same question - the search for who we are.”

(Chapter II One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue)
“I was positive from my own experience that an enormous global interest exists in the exploration of the planets and in many kindred scientific topics - the origin of life, the Earth, and the Cosmos, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, our connection with the universe.”

Carl Sagan said that the reason humanity explores the universe is rooted in the desire to return to its origins.

13.8 billion years ago, in an empty void, the Big Bang occurred, and the universe began. Through eras of chaos and separation, the Sun and Earth were born, and single-celled organisms emerged. Single-celled life evolved into multicellular organisms, and simple lifeforms evolved into higher-dimensional beings. At the end of it all, we find ourselves here today.

We came from the primordial universe – void – where there was nothing. Our boundless awe of the cosmos and our desire to understand it stems from the fact that we originated from the universe. The reason humanity ventures into space is driven by curiosity about its origins and the intrinsic desire to return to its origins. Emptiness is our beginning and our ultimate destination.