Goin’ to Eleven

artwork credit: adafruit.com

I have an odd relationship with the number eleven. One might assume that as a 9/11 widow, I would see eleven as the most vile, evil number there ever was. And certainly, many cultures revile the number in just this way – upsetting the perfection of the number Ten with it’s excess, extravagance, and exaggeration just like in the movie “This is Spinal Tap” when they turn the amp up to eleven. The number eleven heralds potential conflict, or at any rate, change, transformation and renewal following collapse. Heady stuff when you apply it to something like the World Trade Center. It’s easy to see the last eleven years heralding such conflict and transformation.

Which brings me to my odd relationship with the number of evil. I see it as magical. Maybe it’s the power the number eleven has to transform, upsetting the careful balance we each hope to achieve in our lives. Like the word itself, I see it as somewhat Elfen, a mischievous little leprechaun out to mess with the nice, neat order of things. As I go about my business in the world, I come across elevens constantly. Of course I notice them every time, in a sore thumb kind of way, but every time I see one, I see it as a sign – from Arron or the Universe or The Leprechaun of Evil – that I need to take heed, follow the mysterious path that disruptive imp number eleven intends to lead me along. It’s my flashing neon finger lighting up the way of the Universe, the path of most destruction and renewal and rebirth. I am not alone in this elevenish awareness, apparently.

On this eleventh anniversary of Arron’s death, I will have been widowed longer than I was married. A harbinger of change if there ever was one. A perfect folding in two of parallel universes in which, until now, I felt I existed. The threads now are even and it’s time to cut loose and fly free. Perhaps Arron, wherever he is, is taking the same opportunity to leap, tying on what must by now be his black belt of spiritual wonderment.

In China, eleven was the number comprising Heaven and Earth, (that duality – the two ones) and thus considered the “Master Number” in the Tao. In researching the link between eleven and Tao, I keep stumbling across this poem, which is chapter 11 of the Tao:

Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore benefit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.


The lesson is about the negative spaces in life, the ones that are often most useful, offer the most meaning, give us light.

Eleven has much to teach us.

Arron, if you’re guiding these fingers of mine across this keyboard, do a big spiritual karate chop with that black belt of yours. I hope your world rocks as much as mine does. Peace be with you, Fab. I love you.

And just for fun, This is Spinal Tap:

Eleven is One Louder


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  1. Sarah September 10, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    thinking of you and your kiddos and wishing for you whatever it is your heart wants tomorrow and in the days to come …

  2. Debbie September 10, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Abby, you continue to inspire me on this journey. Wishing you peace tomorrow and always.

  3. Beth-Anne Jones September 11, 2012 at 9:08 am

    I read your book, Alchemy of Loss, while staying at St. Anne’s in Port Hope. I was moved by your honesty and emotion and took from the book to never take family or love for granted. I woke up this morning on the anniversary of September 11 and I thought of you and your family. Wishing you peace and happiness.

  4. Joan Lee September 11, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Thinking of you Abby….wishing you peace and joy.


  5. other abby September 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    “You know what we do? When we need that extra push, over the cliff? We put it at 11”
    Push it, Abby. Fly free.

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