The courage to slow down, to take things one at a time, to take a full breath, from beginning to end, without my attention flickering to someone, somewhere, who might approve of me. (Because of course the worst thing in the world, would be to miss a morsel of approval.)
It's been an odd schooling, but an effective one. No one's approval particularly means anything: it's all contingent, unsteady, unpredictable. Steering by it would be disaster. Yet that's what I've been doing. Despite the obvious, which I should know and do know: people approve of you because of what they need, not because of what you need. It's a hard, bitter world, in some ways, and we're all scrabbling at the bottom of a barrel in the dark.
Sometimes you hold on to my hand as though I were life itself. And I simply stop, and hold in return. What else are we here for? It's not as if there was anything to say.
Still, though, if it doesn't drive me, it still moves me, it's such a thrusting habit of mind: "maybe this means I'm special! Maybe I've found it!" Even though I know perfectly well that to be special is to be bound and helpless, a hostage to my imagination. If I want to be free, I had better not want to be special. You don't get both.
And I do want to be free. Even a hint, the glint of Vega over a dark housetop, the wind stirring my hair as I step wearily out of my car, and turn to haul my table out of the back seat -- even those quiet messengers -- my heart rises to meet them, not with a feverish urgency, but with the hinted memory of a long-forgotten ease. Those messengers are the ones to welcome: those are the friends that will bring me home.