Out of the Abyss

toroweap.jpgThree years ago, in the very early hours of the morning, I lie dreaming. At the same time, across town in Good Samaratin Hospital, my friend and writing teacher was dying.

In my dream, I clung to the lip of an abyss– a gaping canyon, resisting a force trying to pull me away, trying to uproot me, obliterate me. Terrified, I held fast to the edge as featureless beings spun around me, waiting like vultures. I looked down into a river hundreds of feet beneath me and considered letting go to fall into the river. But I was afraid to fall, and afraid to fly, because flying– giving in to the force pulling at me, meant the destruction of my being, my identity, me.

I understood that succumbing to this force would result in my coming apart and merging with everything around me. I couldn’t fathom such obliteration, such utter extinction. So I clung, and resisted and dug in for all I was worth, like an oil molecule clinging to the side of a centrifuge, resisting emulsification.

When I learned of my friend’s death, the dream made sense. She was an atheist. This is what they’re afraid of at the moment of death. I realized later, that even with my Christian upbringing, Buddhist practice, and pagan and new age leanings, that this was in fact, my own fear.

Falling isn’t an option; flying isn’t an option. The fear must be confronted if I’m to die a good death, and live a good life.

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