I’m sitting here in my office at 2am on a weekday. I’m not tired, not anymore. I get past a certain point in the night and feel so alive in the silence. I had forgotten how comforting it is to sit up late, alone, with nothing to keep me going but the clicking of my keyboard and the hum of the computer. It feels very zen, peaceful in a way that I can’t seem to find outside of these precious moments.
The past few months have been hard. Filled with steady reflection and thoughts of those dark places in my soul that I choose to forget about for days, months, years at a time. It is amazing to see how affected I have been by the events in my life, the goings on in a childhood where I had so little control over how things were done. Painful to look back and see that little girl, so scared, so absolutely terrified of everything around her. I carry her around with me, day in and day out, unsure of where she ends and I begin. Unsure how to separate a child’s mind from an adult’s world without losing some fundamental piece of who I am. And yet I owe it to her to let go and allow her to slip into the gentle goodnight where she can rest peacefully, assured that we’re both going to be okay. There is nothing that can hurt us. Not one thing can ever take away what we hold most dear.
One of my oldest and dearest friends from years gone by has been sober for 14 months now. She slowly and steadily works to repair the damage she has done to herself, to a life so filled with promise. The most brilliant mind I have ever known, so broken by years of drugs and alcohol; of abuse. An abject failure to recognize the beauty carried within her in every moment of every day. And though most of us do not go that far, do not let our demons overrun us so completely, they are there, daring us to do something about them. We cover them up with lies, with drinking, drugs, food, money, sex. Whatever it takes to tamp it down so we don’t have to hear it, not at least until tomorrow when we will decide again whether to bury it or set it free.
This is where I have found myself in the earliest hours of the morning, contemplating my demons and how much longer it will be before I see fit to free them. Will it be months or years, even? I can’t say. It has already taken so much longer than I would have hoped . What’s a few more years when there are so many come and gone. But as each second ticks by I recognize a figure on the horizon and I know it is coming, that moment of reckoning. Do they stay or do they go, will I live or will I die? It isn’t a physical death that haunts me. It’s the slow and agonizing annihilation of my spirit that lingers in the distance. The decision is mine to make; do I follow the same path to self destruction or do I forge a new one, into the morning where all possibility lies before me. A crossroads of decision between a chance at life and a certain death.
And what it is about the path to the destruction of the soul that is so seductive is its simplicity. It asks nothing of us in return, not at first. It lulls us with a sense of ease and the promises of freedom. Freedom from suffering, from hard work, pain and change, loss and grief; freedom from desperation. It fills us up with empty promises, but we do not see how empty until we’re halfway through the desert and dying of thirst.
The spectacular nature of humanity, in the journey of a singular human being, is our ability to change direction at any moment. Though we may fail to see it in the swirling chaos of life around us, it’s there. The crossroads. The same one we stood at an eternity before, so filled with choice. If we pay attention, look closely, we’ll see it. As we focus on just this moment in all it’s splendor, the dust of reality settles. We look out into the plains of existence, so rich and deep, only to realize there are not two choices but millions and they are all ours for the taking. We only need take the first step to put any one of them in motion.
In the end, as I sit in the silence of this early morning, at the precipice, I know there are really only two things I can do before I let go.
Breathe and be.
Thank you to my dear friend Monica, whom you should all know is brilliant in innumerable ways, for the editing, kind words and inspiration. You are one of my most favorite people. Keep it up. Rip it up.