These wood shavings I've accumulated so carefully over a lifetime: a handful of curls, blackened with age. I used to offer them as unimaginable treasure: and I never understood why so few people were anxious to receive them.
But now I understand, vividly and completely, that I have nothing, nothing whatever to give. My poverty goes far beyond what I imagined. I've run up debts it would take lifetimes to pay.
So stop, step back a little, consider. The soap in my palms, and the warm water. The click of a dog's nails on a wooden floor, and the piping of birds in the thicket. The shadows of tree leaves falling on the leaves of the hedge; the shadows of both on the ground; and in their weaving, the small creatures escaping, or not escaping, the chickens.
And these shavings I've gathered? Well, they might serve to start a cook-fire, or they might add a little bedding for the chickens. Oh, Dale, you've listened to the voices in your head for way too long, poor soul.
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon.
So. Give up what you have gathered. Shave and wash your face. Or better yet, go back to bed and finish the sleep you've held at arm's length for decades. There are dreams there, waiting to show you things you've been unable, or unwilling, to see. Staying awake doesn't give you a magic ability to choose which dreams will come.
All this time, and all this debt you've acquired, and you still want credit for something? No. Go to sleep, dear, and meet the man with the lantern. Wander under the world's roof for a while. Listen to whatever music they have there, in the light that comes through net after net of leaves, the light that falls from lip to lip all the way down to the criss-cross tunnels. You have nothing to give. But they weren't going to receive you because of your gifts anyway. They're going to receive you because that's the way they are.