All Is Empty

A story about hope and fulfillment, searching and finding

Elisabeth Carlucci
4 min readDec 27, 2019

As a girl, I observed that the people in the country I was born in were not happy. Everybody was stressed out and spent most of the time working. I realized that although people lived a seemingly perfect life in a seemingly perfect society, they were unfulfilled.

And as I did not want to become like them, I decided to do things differently.

As soon as I could I started to travel in search of examples that might live a better life.

I traveled the world, met hippies, spiritual people, dropouts and artists. I lived in a cave and worked as an artist in Ibiza. People seemed to be happier here. The searching calmed down and I had found a home. My artistic career took off, I was successful and fulfilled with my life. Yet after some years my heart started to yearn for more. I wanted to refine my artistic expression and learn a craft. I was secretly dreaming of a career as an actress, Hollywood was calling.

I moved, went to university and studied acting. I thought I would find fulfillment in art and a grander artistic career. Once this dream came true, life taught me that it was an illusion. One day it became obvious that being a successful actress would never fulfill my inner yearning.

On that day I dropped everything.

I rented my apartment and moved to India. I had always been a spiritual seeker but now it became a full-time profession. I lived in ashrams, stayed with gurus, meditated in the Himalayas and attended yoga teacher trainings. Yet there was one thing, one last thing that still gave me hope for fulfillment.

The buddhists say that we need to let go of all hopes. Hope keeps us captured in illusion.

I had the hope that love would fulfill me. Personal love. The princess and the prince. My quirky version of it, of course. A piece of me thought that if I would find the ONE, maybe love could be IT. That in the past it didn’t work out because I was not ready for it or he was not right one.

Then I found love.

I found my match and committed to a serious relationship with another spiritual seeker. All I ever wanted came true.

Now, after one year of working hard on my personal defects to make this relationship flow harmoniously I realize that even this is not IT.

I can never make this work. It will NEVER work out.

No-one will ever make me happy and neither can I be that perfect person that makes my partner happy. I have to stop trying so hard.

Today I was sitting alone on a picturesque beach on a beautiful island in Thailand and my heart was broken. While I was looking at the ocean feeling so much pain, something inside of me changed.

Midst of all this heartache something dropped off.

It was as if an angel sent me the message, “all is empty“.

There it was.


The concept of emptiness was not new to me, yet today it emerged from a different place. It was a moment of realization.

Tears started to roll down my cheek. I was touched by my humanness and I was mourning the loss of a dream.

I saw how much energy I had put into my relationship and how he was never content with the way I was. I cried over all my failures, over the naïveté of my ideals and my honest approach to try to be a better person.

It was obvious that no matter how hard I tried, I could only lose.

Everything is empty. Always was, always will be.

This realization did not come with drum rolls and fanfares. It was unexcitedly simple yet undeniably true.

Somehow at some point in creation man must have come up with this idea which we so persistently follow. The idea of happiness and salvation is a human concept that seems to be encoded in our DNA. We all hope that the one day things will be better than now. Most of us spend our entire lives looking for the holy grail.

When I walked home from the beach I discovered the skin of a fish hanging from a hook right next to my house. His eyes were staring at me from afar. Receiving his calling, I approached him. “Look at me. Our bodies are just empty shells, we come and go and nothing ever lasts. The only thing you have is this moment. NOW is all there is, ever was and ever will be”, were the words that he whispered into my ear.

I thanked him and bowed to him. Then I went home.

the skin of a dead fish hanging from a hook in a street in thailand
The fish next to my house



Elisabeth Carlucci

“Life is about experiencing the silent joy of being moment by moment with what is.” - Spirituality, Psychology, Philosophy