When I began thinking about publishing "THE LAST WHY: the poem" , "THE LAST WHY: the precis" and "THE LAST WHY: the essay my first thought was some type of hard copy. I talked to an artist friend about a graphic. She planted the web seed; but I still wanted "a picture... worth a thousand words" for my home page. I suggested a single red rose on a black canvas representing respectively, the last "why?" and "the void", the two concepts at the beginning of my thoughts. She declined.
Left on my own I thought of a mother's day rose on what could appear to be an endless expanse of white snow covering the ice on the lake. The result was inspired. A red rose on black is such a negative image. However, until I saw the red rose on white snow I had never 'seen' the void as a white emptiness rather than a black hole. The void represented by white emptiness is the positive image I had intended to convey.
In my view of life we create the void, or more accurately, we discover it if we question the meaning of life. I call this question "the last why" because it seems when all the other questions are asked and answered, this one will remain. There does not appear to be an answer in the usual sense to "the last why". Thus in my view the void is simply a missing answer that is without an inherent force. Though simply a missing answer without an inherent force and its apparent effect dependent on asking, I believe the awareness of the void has become the primary motivating force of our existence.
That might seem odd given we have to ask, to be aware of the void. However, for the void to be our primary motivating force, the question that discovers it only needed to be asked once and it was, many millennia ago by 'Eve'. She asked "Why am I?" and gave birth to humanity. When 'Eve' discovered the void she experienced the same fear, anxiety, panic, terror and the urge to escape she had felt when previously confronted by unknowns but she couldn't escape. To calm her 'Adam' created a theory with which he tried to fill the void and they acted accordingly.
We would still be acting according to this first theory had it filled the void but since it and all subsequent theories did not, the void was rediscovered again and again and.... Each time the void was rediscovered an individual altered the theory, changed the action and shared the reaction. The individual could have altered the theory by either adding to or subtracting from a preceding theory. Not every one accepted the new reaction so the old one continued to exist. These reactions to the void accumulated over the millennia and were passed from generation to generation. We are living that inheritance today.
Though the reactions to the void we've inherited can vary from the differently named but synonymous, minutely detailed theoretical world views with prescribed activities, to reactions of activities without apparent theoretical framework, they can all be traced to the original discovery of the void. That is our history. We may not be aware of this primary motivation because it seems possible to live our entire lifetime without questioning our inherited activities. More likely though we will lose part of our inheritance and feel a "void in my life"; or just feel that "something was missing"; or experience a floating anxiety and as have some in all preceding generations, we will be motivated to modify our inheritance or convert to another reaction to the void.
Although the void motivates simply by being, it seems to act with a force that can vary from being apparently insignificant to being the most powerful disintegrating force imaginable. My interpretation of our perception the void has a variable effect begins with the theory that prior to asking the last "why?" which gave birth to humanity, our ancestors, by nature, had been reaching out to the limits of their capacities, to others and to God. They were fulfilling their biological purpose of becoming what we are capable of being as had preceding generations back to the conception of humanity. I then suggest that replacing this natural integrating activity with the unnatural disintegrating activity of trying to fill the void disintegrates our being to the degree of replacement.
So quite simply, the more we try to fill the void and thus diminish our natural activity, the greater will be our disintegration. Among the other consequences of substituting unnatural activity for natural activity is conflict within us, conflict between us, the meaninglessness associated with diminished biological purpose and of course questioning. The more we suffer the consequences the more often we question the meaning of life, thus rediscover the void and experience the fear, anxiety, panic, terror and the urge to increase our efforts to escape the meaninglessness, in the various ways we try to fill the void. In the extreme, when we have created a black hole by replacing all our natural activities with the disintegrating unnatural activity, it will seem as if the void has caused our self-destruction.
Despite the abundant evidence of unnatural activity, I don't think self-destruction is the inevitable legacy of the void. It doesn't seem like we are being forced to continue trying to fill the void so there is no reason we couldn't begin to empty it and diminish its apparent effect. To say emptying the void wouldn't be easy is the ultimate understatement. Changing an inherited reaction to the void is difficult enough but living without one would be the supreme challenge. Nevertheless, as surely as our ancestors tried to fill the void with them, we can remove all the theories that have accumulated in the void throughout our history.
As a consequence, we would shed all the restrictive, disintegrating unnatural activities which prescribe what to be; and replace them with the natural integrating activity that allows us to become what we are capable of being. According to the theory, conflict, confusion and questioning the meaning of life would then diminish. Eventually, the void would appear to become an impotent white emptiness. We can't and wouldn't wish to, return biologically to the 'womb'. However, we could philosophically 'replant the rose', let it be and 'watch' the sense of meaning in self-realization grow around it as we reach out the limits of our capacities, to others and to God, apparently the ideal reaction to the void.
So, if the theory is fact, does it matter whether self-destruction or self-realization is the legacy of the void? I don't have and answer for that question. However, I am certain that in self-destruction we will never know. I suspect that in self-realization, we might discover why.