After life has tossed you to the edge and raw openness saturates your bones, there comes a moment when you look up and see others inhabiting that sketchy borderland. You realize the aloneness of staring into the abyss is a solitude that is shared by anyone exposed to the unprocessed energies of living. Meeting other eyes saturated with the earth-shattering no-thing-ness of the void is to encounter the mystery meeting the mystery through the masks of "you" and "me."
Such run-ins happen whenever we forget to raise the facades that protect our carefully crafted images. For an instant we lay down the armor of false separateness and acknowledge we are all out at sea paddling the same human canoe; we don't have a clue as to who we truly are, why the hell we are here and where on earth we are going. We admit that loving more, thinking deeper and trying harder doesn't really illuminate or mange the wild energies of the unknown. It actually takes us deeper into the unknowable; and this where the aliveness we truly seek dwells.
Far from being dangerous intrusions, encountering others at the brink opens the way to healing the primal wound that tears self from other, mind from body, body from earth and any one thing from all other things. This is the natural medicine of honest expressions in art, music, food, healing arts, architecture and other endeavors that aim to reveal rather than hide our shared humanity. When you hear such a raw voice in a song lyric, a line of movie dialogue, or a sentence on the page, you know you are not alone. You remember that there is something to be gained by engaging the confusion, frustration and struggle of this journey rather than straining to avoid it.
For the most part, these electric, healing moments of human connection are fleeting. As quickly as they appear, you conceal them with the fear that expressing vulnerability exposes you to ridicule, rejection and worse. Yet, having the courage to avoid averting your gaze and, instead, continue to meet the mystery of true life in another, you find that the so-called emptiness of existence is its fullness. You discover that the rawness of encounters at the brink is the raw material of Being forming into the richness of Becoming. What society promotes as the good life is actually the escape from life. You find that truly living is truly dying into the openness and vitality of the edge.
Every encounter you have today is an encounter at the brink, whether you acknowledge it or not. Behind the forced smile and the gleaming windshield, the holiday storefront and the bored,disdainful expression, a person facing the mystery is questioning the same things you question, dreading similar things you dread. That person is awed by many of the same things sparking wonder in you and moved by what inspires you. If you look through your mask to see the true human behind their mask, you may discover Life looking back at you. You may have a marvelous encounter at the brink.