The Edge as Both Opportunity and Danger

Annas_fire_girlSome people think it is shameful to try and kill yourself or actually kill yourself.  They call us bad people, weak, cruel, pathetic.  But we are people who have been pushed beyond our edge and cannot at that moment find our way back to solid ground. Edges are like knives, slicing into you, opening something up.  If you survive them the edges can be conduits speeding you to your true path, true self, to something akin to freedom.

In high school I shared a room on the St. John’s Hospital’s psychiatric unit with a girl who went home and overdosed on a combination of anti depressants and alcohol; she suffered violent convulsions before she died while her boyfriend ran around the neighborhood in a panic but failed to call 911.  In my 20s I shared coffee, cigarettes and fried clams at Wollaston Beach in Quincy with a guy who within the year would drown himself in an idyllic park pond at the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain.  In my 30’s I hoped I’d found a close friend in Olga, a tall graceful woman with high cheekbones and cascading auburn hair – someone taken to doing 108 yoga sun salutations in an effort to relieve herself of the despair tormenting her –left us one night and never woke up.

I don’t know why I am still here while others are not.   Still, a moment of hopelessness does not a failure make.  If you live to tell the tale, what matters is not the dark hopeless place but rather where you allow it to take you.

The edge is not a game. Not everyone comes out better for their troubles or survives, but in milder forms it is sought after by people.  For many years I went to hot power yoga classes where the teachers implored us to push deeper and stay with it, “Go to you edge!” they commanded while the sweat poured down like a torrent and some men had puddles accumulating on and around their mat.  Finding your edge in the safe confines of a yoga mat with a teacher encouraging you on can provide rewards albeit a little diluted. I am reminded of the priests who practice self flagellation, such self imposed blood-letting seems twisted to me though I believe in their quest to cleanse themselves or others they too are seeking the gifts of the edge.  But for me the edge was all too real events threatening to engulf, until I am beyond the edge free falling into an abyss of all-soul destruction. Grace rains down in the cruelest ways.


waveI am a person
standing in an ocean
by a towering wave.

I am a person falling
in the storm of crashing water
sucking in ocean
forgetting my place
in the world.

I am a person half
cracked by force,

the water seeps through,
stinging in places
soothing in others.

I am a person exhausted and soggy
from the ordeal,
when another wave hits,

I watch in slow motion as I am sucked
in the power
of the water
I become soft like purple silk
churning in  a heavy duty cycle
splitting at the seams
vestiges of me surfacing
reflecting glossily
in the light

by Nicki G.