Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Birthday Presents

'After all that's what this party business was all about, really: to give away lots of birthday presents, and somehow make it easier to give it away at the same time. It hasn't made it any easier in the end, but it would be a pity to waste all my preparations. It would quite spoil the joke.'

'Indeed it would take away the only point I ever saw in the affair,' said Gandalf.

'Very well,' said Bilbo, 'it goes to Frodo with all the rest.' He drew a deep breath. 'And now I really must be starting, or somebody else will catch me. I've said good-bye, and I couldn't bear to do it all over again.' He picked up his bag and moved to the door.

'You have still got the ring in your pocket,' said the wizard.

Vergüenza. Shame. Yesterday I threw away a great deal of old stuff. Barely staying on top of tears. I was adored, once, said Andrew Aguecheek. The idea that someone might delight in me.

But that's not what I'm giving away. I mean, it is, but that's not the point. What I need to give away is the shame. It's a strange shame. I listen to other people's shame -- heavy, palpable, self-revulsion -- and nothing resonates. This is a light, shifting, pervasive shame, not heavy at all. It has less to do with anything I do than with what I am. Yesterday a resolve took shape: never to be ashamed again. What else can I do, to honor the love that people have given me? If I don't give away that shame I will be taking away, as Gandalf would say, the only point there ever was in the affair.

What would a life without shame look like? I've asked that question before. I can't even imagine an answer. Which tells you just how inwoven it is. I don't think I will be able to imagine an answer. I can only discover it as I go.

If the imagination of a life without shame fails, though, it is remarkable how precisely and readily the actions such a life would dictate are apparent to me. I have only to ask the question, and the answer appears.

Like most resolutions, it is unlikely to be kept. I will probably fail, repeatedly. Which is fine, so long as I learn from the failures. That's why you make resolutions, after all: to get a close look at what actually prevents you from doing what you want to do.

I will not be ashamed any more. Whatever I need to do in order to be unashamed, that's what I'll do.

The hardest thing will be resting, when I am weary.

I found myself starting to weave it all again, a life of shame, building it all up again, losing all that ground. That would be a piss-poor return. I must not do that.

Forgive the rambly-ness and obscurity of this post. I shouldn't post it at all, but I feel I have to anchor this resolve at as many points as possible.

Bless you, thank you. Be careful. But not too careful.

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