139. The Emptiness Inside

One of the worst things, I think, that can happen to someone living in Malaysia involves having an early dinner, and then finding themselves hungry again at about 10P.M. or 11P.M. later that same night, and craving a particular kind of food that would have been totally accessible if the craving had emerged about 2 hours earlier.

After a wholly unsatisfying early dinner at The Mines’ Texas Chicken outlet, I find my stomach grumbling at this time of the night – and as though sensing this and wishing to add to my torment in some form of cruel and unusual punishment, one of my friends on facebook has decided to share a picture of the most perfect roasted goose I have ever laid my eyes upon.

(for reasons unfathomable, WordPress is now recommending for my reading pleasure a post titled “Psalm 139”, among posts dedicated to Christmas and goose)

The craving is an empty, gnawing feeling that makes one feel as though there is a cold vacuum where their stomach should be. Some of you may be familiar with this feeling, only that you call it “despair”. Living in Malaysia means that the two are not mutually exclusive.

(nevermind, just figured out that the recommendation to read Psalm 139 came because of this post’s number)

Before the wholly unsatisfying meal, I was joined with the mad crowd participating in the last day of the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale; and experience which was completely unlike the meal I had after. More out of the realization that I am rapidly running out of cash than anything else, I practiced self-control in my selection of books, and only emerged the hall with 3 books in hand.

(I must have made the cashier’s day too)

One of the books I got was titled “Haunted Heart”, an unauthorized biography of the eminent Mr. King, because in the words of the author, a certain Ms. Rogak:

The running joke among biographers is that if it is authorized, the book makes a good cure for insomnia.

Within the pages of the book’s introduction, Ms. Rogak sheds some light on the reasons behind why Mr. King writes. “It’s probably no surprise his fears rule every second of Stephen King’s existence…” she begins, “…the only way he can block them out is when he’s writing.”

I’m no stranger to writing about things that are bothering me, and I guess every form of self-expression is ultimately a self-portrait of the artist. Whether one expresses it through melodies or movements or words, it seems that the more one tries to distract the viewer with made-up things, the more one reveals about the reality behind these made-up things.

If Mr. King writes to chase his fears away, I do the inverse: I write to fill the emptiness inside. My greatest fear, if you haven’t figured it out by now, is to end up utterly unremarkable and unmemorable. I fear emptiness. I fear boredom. It’s why I write about retired outlaws pulling one last job for the good times; about lonely people on a lonely spacecraft; about a Swordsman wandering the barren earth in the wake of the apocalypse. Because when I write, they fill up that space for a precious, fleeting moment – sort of like how the image of the roasted goose sated the hunger for the briefest of moments – and in that moment, the emptiness isn’t there.

It is only in the moment after, when the satisfaction has passed, that I realize I have only awakened a far greater appetite for more of the same; and this time, it won’t be so easily chased away. So I continue to write. I continue to create.

And until daylight comes and the stores open again, there’s at least a cold supper to help stave off the hunger.


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