Last night I was walking around the edge of very big circular abyss. I walked around and around a few times right on the rim. I couldn’t see the bottom but I knew it was there somewhere.

I wanted to step away but it kept on at me. I thought I’d trick its call and walk right on by. You know, start as if on the circular path and then veer off and past it. As I veered away on the far side from the beginning point of the circle, I came face to face with a tall, sheer wall. It has been a while since that wall was there. I last wrote about it a bit over a year ago I think.

This was the metaphorical but very real image I had. Physically I was swinging my carefully crossed leg, bouncing from the balls of my feet, picking at my cuticles. My heart was beating a little fast and I was alternatively close to tears and explosive outbursts of unreasonable irritation.

I made dinner for us and ladled it (a kind of leftover stew and rice) into two bowls. Then couldn’t eat a mouthful. The kind man with me was puzzled, thoughtful, helpful and generous. It didn’t matter. I was peevish, sorry for myself, sad and scared.

If I have learned nothing else in 53 years it is to be extra careful and selective in my physical self and conversation when these dark clouds come over me and to stop altogether when they linger. This called for a definite STOP mode. I controlled the swinging leg, held my hands still, and focused on slowing the heart and breathing. Mostly I also chose not to speak.

Fortunately, after retreating to the dishes while I stared with as much stillness as I could muster into the fire, he was able to hang in there long enough for me to at least explain that! Not that I had anything else to add except to note that is was also the middle of my month, that miraculous time for women when the pain-body resonates most strongly and deep shifts happen. (I have also learned to pay attention and not to act precipitously in that as well!)

I kept thinking I needed to write but couldn’t get to that. It might have drowned me, swimming in that familiar mode of expression. Finally, I played the piano. It sits there against the wall and is rarely touched except for dusting. I played for about 45 minutes. Not well, but with focus and mostly pleasure.

If you don’t play the piano let me explain that to you. If you do, maybe it is the same for you as well. I don’t play very often and thus don’t play well. I used to play a lot and so there are those passages of music that I expect to just flow right along as easily and as musically as they used to years ago when I played a lot. It is both a reminder of where I used to be and where I am now. My memory moving at one pace, my fingers moving at another, my brain caught in the middle. It is an interesting balance.

It helps that I am still a pretty good sight-reader. If I am alone and have no sense of ‘performing’ I can tolerate the varying tempos, jumbled notes and not hear myself taking out aloud as I sort out accidentals, key changes and weird syncopations. It requires willingness to embrace the discovery in the moment of creation.

I began last night with Chopin, always a favorite when in this kind of place. The minor pieces work best of course, and slow ones. Last night I closed the Chopin part of the program with Prelude in C Minor, for kessler. I moved to a little Mozart (in his less ebullient moods) and Beethoven, although he can be too much of a challenge when tired and out of practice.

Then I hauled out the song books, West Side Story’s Somewhere, Tom Waits’ San Diego Supreme (as covered by Nanci Griffith), Chris de Burgh’s Spaceman Came Traveling and some old, old favorites from the late 60s. (Remember Eres Tu/Youch the Wind?) I wandered through Ashokan Farewell by Jay Unger, images of the Civil War passing before me.

Finally I just did my own noodling and improvisational playing. By then I was still, not an enforced stillness, but naturally, My breathing was  fine and while my eyes hurt (I now know I do have to wear glasses even at the piano!) somehow my soul was soothed. I had not thought about, meditated on, written about or otherwise explored the abyss and the wall. However they were not there anymore.

I had simply focused on creating music, hands and brain engaged, enough beautiful sounds emerging, even through the miscellaneous mistakes, to cleanse and uplift. I went to bed and snuggled in with my also now relaxed sweetheart.

(It turned out he had been lying on the floor behind the sofa almost asleep and somehow also soothed by the albeit less than perfect musical accompaniment to his own process of working out what was going on.)

Today after a good sleep punctuated with a myriad of very busy, cluttered but not disturbing dreams,  and a weeding session the garden, I know this.

The process of personal evolution, and doing so with awareness in the midst of the evolving universal changes, requires the individual’s conscious, willing participation in a series of growth spurts as it were. When you put out to the universe a commitment to grow into all you can be, to walk the path before you even as it unfolds with no map, then you will continually come face to face with the blocks to that path.

As the things you most fear rise before you, as the letting go required to move forward rises up and falls away, each is an opportunity to clear the way, reframe and recommit to the path. It is the only way to move forward.

So when I looked into the abyss, it was the great hole in the ego as the pieces held close that tethered the image of value and self to the ground, burned away. In many ways the vision of myself as defined by how I have lived the previous 10 years is becoming less and less relevant. The losses include financial independence, the slow painful search for right livelihood, and then this week the radiator in my car finally gave out, necessitating some time consuming surgery and an enforced period of, well, transport dependence!

The gifts however, include the way I am experiencing, through this shifting,  the work I have done, am doing and want to do. The pieces that I have put off (such as the book) loom larger and with more vibrancy. The old grinds to a halt, as new versions of right livelihood work with my skills and passions emerge.

There is also the gift of being open to and accepting another into my life, not just as someone with whom I sometimes work or play, but as a partner in all things.

The tipping point for the opening of the abyss and appearance of the wall, as I sit here today and access the deeper knowing, is that we really are getting married. The dates are emerging, the families are writing it on their calendars and we have designed the rings. The fearful self is fighting that, the ‘who am I’ ego is screaming.

The wall has been reached. I cannot throw a rope over it, sink my spikes into it and scale it. I cannot go back. The abyss would swallow me.

I have learned this about the wall. If I am patient and sit quietly at the bottom there is a top to it. It is not as solid as it appears and will dissolve in the light. Last time I was at the foot of the wall it indeed vanished as I leaned my forehead against it. I have arrived at this awareness much faster than last time and that is a good sign!

The abyss is the old ego place calling me back. The wall is the mirage that prevents me attaining the possibilities in the worlds ahead of me. Neither is real. Both are figments of the shadow.

The miracle of the music that flowed imperfectly through my physical self, mind and body, was how purely it still touched my spirit. The alchemy of art does not have to perfect in order to effect its healing and expanding balm upon the troubled little earth-self.

Walk away from the abyss and it will not swallow you.
Shine the light on the wall and it will dissolve.
Embrace the Arts and transmute Fear into Joy.