Once upon a time there was a girl who looked up one day to find she no longer knew where she was. This is the story of that girl. What she did not know - what none of us know when we are lost- is that in order to find anything that isn't already obvious, one must first get a little lost. This finding is one kind of magic. Just because magic has been forgotten in our modern miasma of labels, does not mean it's not still there. I do hope that you won't allow yourself to be fooled into believing magic is dead. Allow me to show you.
Wait. Apologies. I'm getting ahead of myself and probably not making much sense. I hope you will bear with me, because this story about this girl who got lost actually has a point. I knew this girl and I think she'd want me to tell her story because first of all, she likes stories… the good kind of stories, not these crap stories where people just go around finding really bizarre new settings to attempt sex. She likes stories where the people are real and do things that make sense; stories in which the characters discover something special about the world and that something makes them ever so slightly different - new again with new understanding. She likes when that happens. So I think if I can tell the story well, it would be a small gift, as useless as it may be. But the other reason I think maybe she'd want me to tell her story is because getting lost is hard and maybe if other people heard a good story like hers, she could show them something.
We become legacies when we reach out into unknown darkness and touch the lives of others. True legacies are often born of the most unassuming lives.
So first, see the girl.
If I wanted to make this easy, about the girl I'd write "she was a strong girl with a savage lust for life and justice and truth and pretty flowers." Leave it like that. Put her in an easy pigeonhole so you won't have to think that people are more than just one thing. I'm afraid I can't do it that way. But we can start there. You can see her as a Viking warrior princess, her long dark hair pulled up into double knots. In a way, that is who she is. A girl champion, able to ride out and help people… To tell this story, I will start with the Warrior Princess, but at the same time, the girl's stormy brown eyes are not the eyes of raging righteousness, or justice and fearlessness. Don't forget! She is also just another girl who likes to cook and spends too much time by herself; she's a girl who can respect the work of Kenny G and used to sing and dance more often. In this part of the girl, her eyes are not fiery, only the eyes of a girl, easily clouded by confusion.
Whatever you do, do not try to see this girl as anything greater than human. I'm sorry, but if you do that, you will mess the story up. I can't allow that. I need you to hear a real story that gains its merit from truth. Truth is fantastic without need of gilding.
Besides, if she were always this strong girl, then there'd be no story to tell.
Now, this girl got lost. Bad lost. The kinda lost that doesn't happen one day, but is one day recognized in a very terrifying moment of oh-god-where-am-I? How this happened was in itself a sort of magic.
You see, for a while, the girl had been mostly the Viking Warrior Princess of Justice and Truth. Sure, she was Warrior Princess and more. Quite accidentally, though. She'd been only a bystander in a battle that was being waged in her village and thought herself to be helpless to the fated outcome brought on by the actions of others. She was just a girl and she went about her life doing the things that needed done, never having seen hope for other ways. Then -and this part did happen in one day, or nearly one day - she stumbled upon a forgotten banner of righteousness. The banner hid beneath the rubble of empty words, only remnants poking through here and there. She noticed only enough to give her pause. And because the undiscovered truth in her heart had always been and will always be partly Warrior Princess, the remnants of the buried banner whispered to her curiosity and she stopped to clear away the destruction that had fallen and concealed what lay beneath.
The banner she unearthed that day stole her heart unlike anything else in life. The design was faded and unclear, but the sense of the banner came through, more terrible and more wonderful. The banner spoke of awe and wonder and truth. It gave her hope. Because the banner held such a power over her, she made a choice not knowing she was doing so. She chose to take the banner for herself. She cleaned it and honored it and began to carry it, for all to see as they battled around her.
She did not engage, she dared not tell anyone to look at the banner because she did not understand its meaning herself only that it was beauty and peace and hope and Truth. She felt somehow that if she could show others, the banner would help them somehow. So she held it high. She carried it with confidence, everywhere she went, almost hoping for someone to challenge her. (Ay, warrior princess, whatcha got there?- Dunno… whatsit look like to you?) She didn't dare name her banner for fear of not doing it justice. There were no real words that were right enough, so she gave it by showing. Others did see. They were envious that she had found something which allowed her to walk without fear. Naturally, they wanted what she had. This lust on the part of others mostly wasn't out of malice, but out of their own private emptiness.
Soon the Warrior Princes looked back over her shoulder and saw something she didn't expect. Others, and not just looking either. She was sought and followed by a few, then more, until there were enough people watching her, waiting for her to give direction and her understanding of the banner. That's how she became an Accidental Warrior Princess.
The Warrior Princess is the girl; the girl is the warrior princess. She had no idea how to lead or what to do with the banner now that she held it. The banner was high and beautiful and she loved the idea it spoke into the winds. She loved it too much to part with it, but it was also beginning to grow heavy. Not the weight of the banner itself, the weight of the questions of the banner. When she had first begun digging the cloth from the dirt, she'd no idea what she was freeing. Perhaps she wouldn't have dug in the first place. No. What am I saying. She had no choice but to choose to dig it out.
For the banner was a curiosity, a thing of beauty in a dark world where everyone was behaving very horribly to everyone else. The curiosity radiated a power that touched not only her heart, but all hearts. Hearts that, having never seen the banner would never have known the emptiness it left in its wake.
The Warrior Princess' heart was no longer her own. Her heart belonged to the banner. That was bad, because she could not do and say what she had done and said in the past as easily. Even if she hadn't asked for it, she was a Warrior Princess and there were certain things that Warrior Princesses had to do. The beauty of the banner belonged to everyone. Because of this, her heart belonged to everyone. Everyone, she knew, had a tendency to suck. A lot.
She looked around, into the eyes of the others and understood it was more than just sucking… They didn't understand. That made them scared. And scared is always, always, always the worst. They saw what she had, saw the banner and believed that to take the banner or to touch it or to follow it, would mean they would instantly possess the courage of the Warrior Princess. She knew better. For the others to have all the power of the banner, they too would have to take the time to uncover it. To know it intimately as she did. Then have the strength to lift and carry the banner every day no matter what without backing down. Only then did the banner's magic work.
She tried to explain this to those who wanted her courage for their own. She wanted to share the power of the banner. She was saddened by how people hurt each other and tried to make one another fearful. So she wanted to give the power of the banner, sure she did. But when she tried to explain how the magic worked, she saw only impatient lust or animal fear in the eyes of the others. That frightened her more than anything. It became clear to her. She knew that if she let the banner go, someone else would come along and pick it up. Maybe someone who had darkness in their heart. Someone could lure and control the people who glimpsed the beauty of the banner and followed out of hunger and fear.
She thought on these things in her garden. In solitude. She didn't want the banner - did want the banner - didn't - did. When she closed her eyes at night, she saw the awful things she had come to understand since unearthing the banner and those things made her feel empty and dead inside. She knew the banner could help but didn't know how and thought that maybe the banner should have been a little bit more responsible for itself. Though her fingers never lessoned their grip, the Warrior Princess wanted nothing to do with the fucking banner for a while.
Still, she couldn't leave the banner to be buried or misused. So she did a different thing, the only thing she could think of to do. She ran away, but… she took the banner with her. Albeit Grudgingly.
When the accidental Warrior Princess left the war and the people behind, she set out alone on road she'd never seen before in her life. On her way out, a mousy boy with two scraped knees and one finger up his nose sensed her walking cloud of confusion darkened at the edges by anger and self righteousness. Children always sense those things, don't they? "Hey! Warrior Princess," he cried "Where you goin?"
She did not even glance at him when she replied. "Away."
Other than the boy, who later forgot completely, none other noticed the Warrior Princess leaving.
Once the Warrior Princess got to the point where she could no longer see her village or hear the cries coming from within, two things happened. First, she was alone with her banner for the first time since the day she'd begun digging it out from the rubble. And second, with no battle and no people to follow her, the words warrior and princess no longer existed.
Now our Warrior Princess is, again, only a girl. Can you imagine? She is flesh and blood and sometimes tears, like any other girl.
On the first day of her journey away from the village, the Warrior Princess walked without direction. Every step she took, she felt a burden lifting. So she kept walking and it was good.
Without the demands for her justification of the new old banner she'd taken up, she began to come to appreciate it more. Appreciation does not always mean good things, you know. You can appreciate, for instance, the fact that guns kill people without admiring that Truth. She appreciated that the banner was something very powerful and unknown.
She looked up and saw it waving, just out of her reach. The stirring she had felt upon originally discovering it began to return and she once again saw it for what it was: Splendor. Ah, she thought, yes, now I remember why I broke you out of the dirt in the first place.
She walked on, freeing herself of the burden more and more, alone with her banner that sparked wonder. The spell of the banner began its magic once more and she wondered as she wandered… Why me, she wondered. What am I supposed to do with you? She wondered. How can I protect you and myself? If I go back, she questioned the mysterious flapping material, it will happen again. They'll want my heart so long as I carry you.
Now, the girl knew she was talking to thin air. And sure, she felt a little ridiculous talking to the banner as though it would answer, but she also felt fine because the banner was no less crazy than the monsters who wanted to hurt people with it's magic, so she kept talking.
I know you are good and that you will help people, so I want to bring you back. She said, not realizing just how far she was walking as she talked to this imaginary magical nothingness. I want to bring you back but I don't like those people. I'm very sorry. If they were likable, they wouldn't need you, so you must understand why. They are rotten and their television shows suck and they talk cruelly about each other and, this is the worst, some of them like Ska music. Ska music!
They don't deserve to be helped. They go around starting stupid battles over stupid things they don't understand in order to get stupid things that don't even exist. They don't want to be shown how your magic works, they just want your magic to work for them so they can be better than the others. As she talked and walked, another one of the banner's magics kicked in. The anger and the self righteousness that were weakening her were actually being absorbed into the cloth which waved above her and the colors of the banner intensified. The girl who was a Warrior Princess (but not a Warrior Princess at the same time) felt those things being lifted from her mind. With this dark clutter gone, she was able to think more and more clearly about what to do. Even brilliant thinkers can be absent-minded though, because the not-a-Warrior-Princess did not notice the sun leaning ever more toward the west.
I'm just a girl. You are the damn banner, she thought. Why don't you take care of the people? You are wonderful and right and pure and helpful. You can help them to create masterpieces instead of pornographic art, direct symphonies instead of producing compromising and degrading rap music. If you just gave them a little of your good power… I bet they'd start standing up for each other. When someone hurt someone else, you could make the others see and stand up. Why don't you!?! I AM A VERY ANGRY WARRIOR PRINCESS! This last, she actually shouted up at the banner, her imposing passion carried her voice throughout the forest.
Forest? When did that happen. The girl(/warrior princess) was in the forest and it was getting dark. Dust's fog rose around her. Where am I? She wondered. She looked to her banner and noticed for the first time its transformation. All of her pain and anger and confusion had been absorbed into a state of purified passion so intense it shone in the darkening forest, white hot around the edges, pulsating in the middle.
She marveled. She hadn't known she'd had so much darkness within her. It terrified her to think what that darkness was capable of. She was just as horrible as everyone, everywhere, except now she was lost. At least everyone else had each other to be miserable with. A single tear welled in her eye.
Fuck the banner. Alone. Scared. Alone. Lost. Clueless. Weak. Alone. It was the banner's fault.
The Warrior Princess looked around and all she saw was fog. How did I get here? Who am I really? Warrior Princess of the Banner of Righteousness and Truth, indeed. Another tear and another until she'd begun a respectable pitying cry. She walked to the nearest tree and looked up at the banner. It was beautiful, more beautiful now than ever, because she had glorified it by holding it high and refusing to let it go. She'd made the banner stronger. But what did that matter? Strong banners in empty forests? Who cares? Was she supposed to teach the bunnies and birdies about the beauty of the banner?? No. It didn't matter. And all the banner did in the emptiness was make her feel guilty for taking it, without trying to live up to what it stood for. She was lost, she didn't need a guilt trip… fuck the banner.
She meant to prop the banner up on the tree, turn her back and forget it. Maybe if she could quit getting distracted by the banner, she could forget it completely eventually, and go back to battling with her neighbors and believing things always had to be so stupid. That's what the WarriorPrincessGirl had intended anyway.
As the banner fell from her fingers though, a crippling invisible flame ignited within her mind, dropping her to her knees in blinding pain. There was no question where the pain came from.
The banner could be quite a bitch at times.
To be continued…