Despite Achievement and Praise--
Why Can a Woman Feel Empty?
by Lynette Abel
At age 19, I felt proud that I'd managed to complete the work of two years
of school in a year and a half and graduate from Miami-Dade Jr. College
with mostly A's and B's. I had just been accepted to Florida State
University. And I had been going out with Tom Statler, who was very
handsome and told me only several months after we began dating, that he
loved me and asked me to marry him. Yet with all this, I felt a pervasive
emptiness that I didn't understand, and that I thought would always be
This deep feeling of emptiness is gone and my life now is rich and full
because of what I have learned from Aesthetic Realism.
In an issue of The Right o f Aesthetic
Realism to Be Known Mr. Siegel explains:
Aesthetic Realism is new
in showing that the pleasure of contempt always weakens a person and makes
for emptiness, and that the only pleasure that is strengthening, deeply
satisfying is the pleasure of respect.
that is clear in the history of man is that he has had pleasure of two
kinds. Man has had pleasure from seeing a sunset; from Handel's Messiah;
from seeing courage in someone; from a great rhythm in words. He
has also had pleasure from making everything he can meaningless; from changing
architecture into broken eggshells; from making the mighty malodorous;
from trivializing." [TRO 162]).
In his lecture Mind
and Emptiness of 1949, Mr. Siegel said:
This was true about me.
I--for instance--didn't know that when I would let my mind wander no matter
what was going on around me, I was having contempt and doing what would
make me feel empty.
complain about...how empty they feel, how nothing means anything to them,
and yet they don't know that this is what they've been planning for. (TRO
In my first Aesthetic
Realism consultation I learned that I was related to everything.
"The world, art and self explain each other:" Mr. Siegel wrote "each is
the aesthetic oneness of opposites." I'll never forget the thrill
I felt when I saw that I was related to the table we were sitting at through
the opposites. My consultants asked: Are you like this table, both
rough and smooth? I was surprised but saw that I definitely was.
I had cultivated a smooth exterior, while inside I often felt agitated
When I left that consultation and walked down the street, things that I
never would have noticed suddenly got my attention. As I looked at
the sky, a tree, the sidewalk, and a person passing, I began to see I was
related to each of these things through the opposites: dark and light,
rest and motion, sameness and difference. From that day on I never
felt again the deep separation from the world that had troubled me all
Meaning through Relation
As a child I remember
the pleasure I felt learning to read and going to the library. I
loved horses and read all of The Black Stallion books of Walter
Farley. I took dance lessons. But the thing that interested
me the most was music.
I began taking piano lessons at the age of four. As I practiced the
Hanon Scales, though I didn't know it, the reason they satisfied me so
much was because of the way they were so orderly and free and for that
while these opposites were more one in myself.
But as I had pleasure seeing meaning in music, I also had another pleasure
which took away meaning. My father praised my "musical talent.";
"You have a better ear than your sister," I was told. I relished
hearing this, but used it to feel I was superior to all other children.
And I felt because I was "talented" I didn't need to know key signatures,
how to sight-read music, and I certainly didn't need to practice.
the piano had less and less meaning for me. After studying Aesthetic
Realism I began to understand why. I had come to feel that things
and people existed to make me important, otherwise they had no meaning.
No wonder I felt more and more a sweeping feeling of hollowness, a separation
Mr. Siegel said in the lecture I am quoting from:
I remember thinking in
school, "What do I need to know chemistry for?, and feeling triumphant
as I tuned a teacher out. The territory of what I thought I didn't
need to know got larger and larger, and it very much included people.
I did not think other people were as sensitive and as deep as I.
This way of seeing, which I learned is contempt, almost ruined my life.
As much as anything, I am grateful to Aesthetic Realism for changing this
and enabling me to see meaning and grandeur in the world.
in their earlier years, are welcoming emptiness later. They don't
know it, but they are not doing all they can, for the time they have,
to like what they were born into. Every time they miss something,
they are saying, "Emptiness, come to me."
In September of 1978 I had an Aesthetic Realism lesson with Mr. Siegel.
In it, I felt deeply understood. In a document I wrote to Mr. Siegel
I asked what stopped me from being affected by things and people in a way
I was proud of. He said:
The thing that stops you is the grounds on which you want to be affected.
Before you can be affected truly you have to ask what is it I truly want
to love, I'm truly proud to love, what can I love truly? Have you
asked that question?
Not deeply enough.
ES Well, do you
think until you ask the question you'll be uncertain in your judgment?
LA Yes, I will.
And he said:
ES We like people
in proportion to the fuss they make about us. And is that a good
basis of judgment?
LA No, it isn't.
ES Do you want
people to make a fuss about you?
LA Yes, I do.
if they don't make a fuss about you you feel deserted and lonely?
LA I've felt that.
Through Aesthetic Realism
my attitude of disdain changed and I began to welcome being affected by
people and things in new ways, which includes a deep care for poetry and
for the flute.
on page 2