Peering over the edge, the infinite blackness called out with a deafening shriek, its dark arms reaching out to embrace the curious onlooker. Deep down, he looked and saw the shadow of something glinting. The sun reflecting off of a few stones, no doubt. Or was it a wry smile? Listening closer, he could hear a slight whisper from the void. A whisper that bore into his skull and asked, nay, begged for further exploration. “Come closer,” it hissed.

Curious.

The hapless traveler leaned over just a bit more, the curiosity of what might be down there gnawing at his heels, urging him to take just one more step closer. Shuffling closer to the edge, a few errant pebbles bounce into the abyss. He took another step, now his feet halfway over the edge. What adventures could be had with just one more step? Just. One. More…

Immediately, the trance-like state ended abruptly. Shocked, the traveler stumbled back onto solid ground. His heart pounding, he turned around to leave the hissing pit behind. Walking back towards the world as he knew it shakily, a thought had taken root: what if?

This is the “Call of the Void”, or, as the French call it, “L’apple du vide”. It’s a sort of ethereal beckoning for destruction. It’s the sort of idle thought that pops into your head while danger lurks in the background. It’s an errant thought while driving, while cutting vegetables for dinner, while climbing a mountain. All normal things for normal people to think as long as they’re quick, fleeting thoughts. A quick plug: If these are frequently recurring thoughts or if you’re looking for some immediate help, give 1 (800) 273-8255 a call if you’re in America or find your country on this list.

Usually, humans have a strong desire to survive. There’s a whole system in place as part of the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) known as the “Autonomic Nervous System” which controls your famous “Flight-or-fight” response. Practically all animals have this drive to get out of danger by fighting, fleeing, or even freezing, but it’s interesting to see when that drive gets overridden, even for a second. There’s a reason the Call of the Void is really a kind of intrusive thought: We’re trying to keep living (preferably forever). This hope for immortality is starkly put in contrast when the Void calls. Death always sits just outside of the periphery; perhaps sometimes Death just wants to send reminders.

Photo Credit: Abismo by cuellar, on Flickr

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