Be Cautious of Pride

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These old pictures Philip took of me 15 years ago remain my favorite pictures anyone has ever taken of me. I dredge them up from time to time, not out of (I hope) inordinate and undeserved pride, but out of an appreciation of how well I could wear a tiara at 28 years of age.

Don’t take pride in things that only circumstances can arrange beautifully, like never needing government assistance, like being born white, or being born with opportunity arranged for you by gender, race, or creed. Take pride in what no one but you can say, achieve, be, throw down on the ice floe. Take pride in what you make with your raw hands, what you risk for truth, who you protect with love. Take pride in how much of your neck you stretch out for the knife. Nothing else matters.

What are you willing to be killed for?

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This sweet candy is like funereal drivel. Give me the goddamn corpse – I’ll take it in my arms and lay it down in a pillow of night. 16 years ago I had a prophetic moment and if I could have used it to solve fiscal calamity or oppression I would have ditched every selfish decision since then. I would have worn a hair shirt, I would have chained myself to the pillar of salt-truth until my skin was stiff and parched with it. I would have sacrificed my hope to its fire of possibility.

the right tiara contrastI’m white, a crime I didn’t get to choose. I won’t be ashamed of my skin because that’s part of the systemic diseaseĀ  this country is suffering from. I will hold candles up to the images of every American who’s ever been born and suffered unfairly because their skin wasn’t as burnable as mine. I will embrace and love any good human, any color, any faith, any day.

I loved a murderer because his heart was a beautiful organ. This love taught me that people can change. People can evolve. If I didn’t know this I would choose to die today from heartache and fear. This murderer had the most tender heart, was a better human than I am.

A better human than I am.

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