There is this abyss somewhere in the recesses of my psyche, a place composed of darkness, making me increasingly aware of its presence.

Earlier this week I realized I was close to its cusp. And I know I must not fall in.

I can’t afford to concede the times of these days to a season of shadows; I must fight to find my joy.

It is a chasm that always starts to widen this time of year in accordance with the loss of light and deepening dark that accompanies the solstice season in Alaska. There is much that lays in wait there.

Abject grief over the loss of my brother, magnified by the memories contained in the holiday season. My proclivity towards seasonal affective disorder- that depressive sense of being trapped in dark boxes with little relief of light.

My sorrow over post-election fall out and the signs of hate running rampant through the veins of this country- what is it going to take to make us learn how to choose love? A knowledge- experienced and lived this past year- of just how terribly tragic and unfair life can be.

And if I stand at that cusp and stare down into the void long enough, I can see these shadows swirling around, inviting me to spiral with them, take a one-way, dead end, trip into despair.

Like I said, I know I must not fall in; I can’t afford to concede the times of these days to a season of shadows; I must fight for my joy.

Years ago I had to fight for my joy. Put a stake in the ground that further fractured a fault line I had been desperately trying to ignore and glue back together. It had been slow to wake, but a dawning sense of awareness and presence had slowly stretched out inside of myself, opened her eyes and realized just how little she knew herself and just how poorly her life seemed to fit.

Back in those days, I constantly had a sense of birds flying around in my consciousness, running into the walls of their cages, trying to find a way to be free. I didn’t understand what I was searching for, but I knew I needed to start speaking my truth into my life.

A lot changed that year. I found myself newly single. Renting a tiny space. Having to work much harder than I had before to support myself.

Heart battered and bruised but finally wide open, I had walked away from a fairly cushy, easy, life and, with nothing left to hide behind, no lies left inside of myself, I began to intentionally fill my life with things that were authentic, real and true.

I had freed my birds of soul inside- now I just had to figure out how to learn to fly.

Over the next few years I began to realize what it meant to insist on joy. To fight for perspective and growth and a relationship with life and love which nourished my soul and resonated with my experience of self.

To fight for a free mind and free heart and my own deservedness of heart healing.

To learn that all of these things are inside jobs, and I was the only one who held the power to effect my own change by rolling up her sleeves and getting to work on learning to become a more beautiful, bigger, richer and deeper being.

Since then I have learned that doing the work of self is not a one time deal where you only have to do it once then get to sit around resting and enjoying the fruits. Instead, self-work is like laundry and dishes- you can enjoy the effects of having everything organized and put away for a little while, but if you are engaging with life and creating new experiences, you will find that things get messy and there is always more work to be done.

We can’t afford to be emotionally lazy, to defer doing our own work of heart, soul and mind, if we want to embrace life to our fullest capacity and be our brightest scope of self. We have to insist- rather relentlessly- on finding the good, on finding gratitude, on finding perspectives that move us in a direction of love and light.

I can’t afford to be emotionally lazy if I want to avoid the pull of that abyss and, instead, find the gifts of this season. I don’t have to fall into it. I have choices. It is enough to acknowledge its presence, to be mindful that its there, then to go about the work of finding the joy that I can.

For everyday we are posed with the matter of our own possibility.

Life has already given us the answer in the gift of our being.

And the way that we choose to live is the question’s cusp.