First Published in Etched Offerings
You see in me your inspiration and I see in you my creators. Who I am, who you take me to be, all of this has been shaped and formed by each one of you. Each turn of phrase, each gesture, each thought… they are mine now, but only because you have given them to me. I take the emotions you hand me on their platters of fragile glass and slip them on, tasting them and wondering at the experience while I tame them to my hand. Pain was learned and I learned it from you. Love? Sometimes it seems I was born loving, but it was you who have taught me what it means. I have no words but those you have given me, but with those words I shaped stories and songs. I would say those were all my own, but you have given me those as well. Oh its rare that any one of you gives me all of a story, an emotion, an idea… but there are so many of you with so much to offer…I take it all in, put it all together, and then I step back and see.
From you, I learned that night’s darkness is no more to be feared than day’s light. From you I learned that a gentle touch and a kiss on the forehead can right all the wrongs in the world. From you I learned about fairytale princesses whispered on breezes as light as swan feathers. From you I learned the fear of loss. From you I learned betrayal. From you I learned what it is to lie… and from you I learned truth. From you I learned not to let anyone know that I loved, and from you I learned not to speak. Yet from you I learned the power of song, and from you I learned how to use more than words to say what I mean. You taught me how to laugh and how to weep, how to dance and how to hold still. You taught me that there is no one true way because all of them are true, and you taught me how to see your path… and yours… and yours…
I seemed fey and so you gave that to me, to be the bearer of your hope and the spark that would keep your dreams alive. You gave me the gift of magic, so that I could touch your lives and change them, for you were afraid to do so yourselves. You gave me all your stories, and a sense of fantasy so that when yours died you could listen to me playing make believe and be drawn back to the self you had thought lost.
Is it any wonder, after all you have given me, that when you look into my eyes you see yourself? You have made of me a mirror that will see your virtues and your flaws, and show you both. What do you want to see? What do you fear to see? Look into my eyes and it is there. I am the form of your desire… but then you gave me something else.
You broke me with the foot prints of your passing, ground the shards of me into sand and called the sea to wash the sand away. What would not break you burned and scattered the ashes of me into the four winds until the healing rains washed me back down into the earth. And you gathered the pieces of me and held them together, and you listened while I poured all your words and all that you had taught me into your watery depths. And then you reached out your hand and gave me life and with it strength. You took everything that you had given me and forged it in the fires of my destruction until it was one seamless whole. You looked at me and told me you did not want me to be you. You looked at me and you told me you wanted me to be myself.
Myself. I can taste the word in my mouth, still marveling at the newness of it, the strangeness of it. You showed me the word, you taught me how to say it, how to look for it, but you never showed me that was what you wanted. You never gave it to me… until now.
Myself. And who is this self that is me? I am your creation still, I am all that you made me to be… but I am also somehow more than that. I see in myself your weaknesses and your strengths, and I chip away at what I do not wish to keep. I am what you have made me to be, so do not blame me for you have made me be myself.
I do not know whether to thank you or curse you for all you have given me, and so I do both. I thank you for teaching me what it is to live, and I curse you to know for yourself everything that you have taught me, the joy and the tears alike. And I? I will be your inspiration still if you will have me… I will keep the wonder that you let slip away and I will show it to you when the world turns dark and cold. I will take the sparkle in your eyes and place it in the stars, and I will take the songs you sing and place them on the wind for you to hear when you have long forgotten them. I will take your memories, your hopes, your fears, your wishes, and your desires, and I will make of them dreams that will sweep you into their realm as you sleep. I will take your laughter and give it to the streams to remember and I will take your tears and give them to the clouds to rain down whenever you have turned dry and barren. I will take all that you offer me, and I will slip ghostlike through your life when it seems grey and lifeless, showing you for a moment everything you thought you had lost. And when you have given all you have to give, and you see me standing there half unseen out of the corner of my eye, you will pursue me with your songs and your creations, pouring into them your soul, your heart, your life, leaving behind you the seeds that you have planted, that I have carried and nurtured.
You call me thief of hearts, of time, of souls, but I have stolen nothing, only taken what you have given me. You call me many things and I am all of them and none. I am your creation… and I am Hope.