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A Tisket, A Tasket

Today is May Day, also known as Beltane, or Walpurgis, or by any number of other names. It’s one of my favorite sub-holidays because it brings warm weather and sun and flowers. When I was a child, our town had an annual May Fair. Artisans would set up tents and booths to sell their wares, and there would be games and food and music and a May Pole, and we would go to greet one another and enjoy that singular sense of community. I almost always ended up buying a garland of flowers for my hair.

There is an old tradition of May Baskets, not much observed any longer, wherein someone would leave a basket of flowers and treats on a doorstep, ring the bell, and run away. The object was to catch the person, and if you succeeded, kiss them. Call it an old homage to spring fever, the adolescence of the year, and all old fertility rites—in any case, great fun.

So in the spirit of the season, this year I leave a basket of words and thoughts on your doorstep to consider. It’s hardly fair, I realize, since you are unable to catch me from here. Though I suppose if you were enterprising enough, you could come find me.

You, who are like a magpie of a man, gathering the shiny bits and pieces of others whom you admire and making their words and affectations your own . . . I don’t think you do it out of malice, no, and maybe it comes so naturally, this mimicry, that you don’t always realize you are doing it. But you are sensitive enough, and deep enough, to be able to look within yourself and know the truth at the heart of the matter. You do these things, appropriate these gestures, in part out of honest esteem for those from whom you steal, but also because you want very much to fit in and to be liked, and maybe just a little because it feels safer to use others’ words and actions instead of your own. Every one of these little trinkets that you gather from the pockets of friends, acquaintances, coworkers, adds to the shell you build for yourself, something for you to hide in. Even now, reading this, you might feel exposed and vulnerable.

But here are the roses I give you: I love you anyway. And so do they. And were you ever to summon the strength and courage to step out of the shade of their shadows, you would be welcomed with open hearts and arms. You have much to offer on your own terms, and in your own words. Remember that you are friendly, and likable, and capable of more than superficial conversation. You might spend your days with other people’s words in your mouth, but to be heard you will need to speak for yourself. You fear being overlooked yet hide in plain sight.
Don’t be afraid to show yourself. Inside and out. Because you are loved. Inside and out.



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