Editorial: The other kind of ‘calling’

File photo

File photo

I got an uneasy feeling while standing near the edge of cliffs in West Virginia. Sometimes I was too scared to look over the edge — other times it drew me in like a moth to a porch light.

If I stood ten feet away, I couldn’t tell how high I actually was. I knew I wouldn’t get an opportunity like that again, though, so I inched my way forward. My gaze at the grand horizon was diverted downward, towards unfathomable depths.

Suddenly, I felt a pull. Something was telling me to keep walking. I didn’t want to fall off the edge, and I certainly didn’t want to die. Still, I felt the urge to jump.

Afraid of the eerie feeling and adrenaline flowing through me, I carefully stepped back to safer ground.

Years later I would come upon Urban Dictionary’s definition of “L’appel du vide” or “The call of the void.” Described as “the insane desire of our unconscious,” I was relieved to find that I wasn’t the only one to feel this way, and that it is not an indication of suicidal ideation.

Nonetheless, I was intrigued. In my fourth year at Calvin, there is very little that can get my spirits going, so to speak. I am not easily motivated and it seems as though days drag on without end.

My thoughts were recently redirected to those hanging cliffs in West Virginia. Not because I wanted to tempt fate once more, but because I felt like I was standing near the edge of my own metaphorical cliff.

I am facing an uncertain future, one where I am more apt to wait tables at Applebee’s than write for a living. Such is the life of a writing major — one who spent too much time playing video games and not enough time in the library.

Somewhere off in the distance I hear my life’s calling. It is faint and unintelligible. Much louder is the roaring water 500 feet below.

Despite the obvious benefits of ignoring my impending doom — aka an unfulfilled life of labor and loneliness — sometimes it seems the more favorable option when compared to the difficulty of stepping away and treading through the thickets of hard work and dedication.

Amid my own pretentious metaphors, I forget that this void calling me is of my own creation. In an attempt to subvert my adherence to a life of grit and grind, I conceive of a fate that is much simpler. Truly, though, there is never an easy way out in life.

If I could go back and talk to the Mark who was anxiously standing near the edge of an actual cliff during his high school senior trip, I would shake him and slap him in the face.

“Get over yourself!” I would yell, and then zap away in some sort of cool ghost-from-the-future thing. Because as real as the call of the void may feel, it is deceptively distracting.

What I have been trying to get at is that the feeling of existential dread you come across every now-and-again is completely normal. It is also nowhere near as life-defining as you may presently think.

Just take a deep breath, relax and step back.