For all those who came before. Those who threw me to the ground; those who hurt me, intentionally or otherwise; those who cursed me; those who lied to me; those who hushed me; those who hated me; those who betrayed me; those who loved me, then didn’t; those who befriended me; those who cared for me; and many more.
When you knocked me down, rolling around in leaves changed the way I see autumn… All in that one day, it taught me to see the world differently, from a different point of view. You changed the way I look at people and the way they look at me.
When you hurt me, the pain helped me grow stronger. I learned from it, let it teach me the bitter lessons of life and death and love and hate. The scars are reminders that I’m alive, the pain confirmation that I feel. You empowered me to face challenges without fear of failure, knowing that failure would increase the potency of my essence, of my very being.
When you cursed me, I learned the sound of smallness. I learned to recognize it as such in others, and further to recognize the bigotry, hypocrisy, hatred, and selfishness which permeates our world. This helped acclimatize me to the evil that lies within the hearts of humankind when they cannot see beyond their own prejudices, wanton odium of those who are different, and the inclination of those who feel differently to turn away in silent acquiescence.
When you lied to me, mendacious tongues writhed together forming a recognizable pattern. I became empowered to hear the truth and isolate dishonesty. I learned to see through the lies and understand people better, knowing when to be hurt by dishonesty and when to accept it as a defense mechanism — as well as when it is an unconscious act. You taught me to cherish the truth more and more.
When you hushed me, the importance of listening became apparent. Whether it be the rain falling in sheets, the distant call of a bird which beckons to the heart, the real meaning behind what people say, or the contentment and folly of silence, I finally could hear the song at the world’s heart, and it sounded of anguish and pain and joy and happiness. I learned that so much of the noise around us means to cloak that which the universe wishes us to comprehend.
When you hated me, you helped me see the evil in people as well as the good. I was caused to cherish those within whom no intentional ill will exists. The behest of love and companionship were made apparent to me, and the insignificance of everything else was committed to memory.
When you betrayed me, my own innocence was revealed. The inherent trust which I so often and initially bequeathed to others seemed a flaw, a malady within my consciousness that threatened to dash to pieces the many relationships that relied on explicit trust. I learned to recognize betrayal as part and parcel of the human condition. This helped me to see that trust is earned, not given, but also that a man is made trustworthy only when he is given trust.
When you loved me, you told me I meant something to someone even if I couldn’t see it then, even if it wasn’t true. I realized the power of the sentiment was independent of the emotion itself, yet the emotion could present its own rewards immeasurable by any sentiment. My false impression of love as an eternal constant transformed into the truth of love as a simple emotion and physical response, both of which are independent of each other and neither of which are mandated to eternity. I know now that true love endures even when that which encompasses it is no more.
When you befriended me, the hour-long conversations and the laughter and jokes reached into my soul and plucked from within the bud of heartfelt relationships. The truth of forever friendships became most apparent to me. Lighted, to my life was revealed the sanctity of family and the importance of fellowship. Even if we could not put it into words, the indefinable became defined.
When you cared for me, my own care for others was quantified and made measurable. Important things become unimportant. Defining existence become simple. The cosmos is vast beyond comprehension and we are such insignificant players on its stage. We can never truly hope to control the events surrounding us. The most we can ever hope to achieve is determining whether we are good or evil, and my only path on that journey was to choose to care with devotion and meaning. All else became secondary.
Am I from another world with these thoughts? Am I somehow alien from the majority of those around me? Yes, perhaps both sentiments are true, perhaps both represent some complete ubiquitous verity about which so few have any comprehension.
I learned to live without bitterness and resentment. I learned to turn my back on animosity. I learned the importance of love in its many incarnations, to appreciate the sometimes bitter, sometimes rewarding lessons it had to teach. I learned that to forgive is to demonstrate love. I learned that love is not just platonic or familial or romantic. And I learned it was for all of those who came before, some for who they were, some for what they taught, and some for what they did. I realize now that love and hate are the same coin, flippantly tossed into the air with every emotional interaction. It is the wheel upon which turns our ability to feel deeply. It is the altar upon which is sacrificed our innocence so that we might survive the existence which is thrust upon us at birth.
For all of those who came before, for all of those who are here now, and for all of those who will arrive in the future, I love you all. I love you for different reasons, and it may be that I love what you represent and not who you are, but I still love the idea that is you. Each has imparted to me what is necessary for survival. Each has enabled me to live. I owe you my existence. I can only repay you by the life I lead. You will find it worthy.