One year ago, a lifetime ago, I made an oath.
I’ve never been very good at making oaths nor have I been as good at keeping them. In hindsight, I don’t remember exactly what it was that compelled me to make it, perhaps only because it felt like the right thing to do. That was in late July, somewhere in Chicago, Illinois, and I remember that place with only blurred details.
Since that time between then and now, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and desperate with the need for preservation, not wanting to ever forget that experience, I’ve been struggling to write. A memory can only be as empty as an experience. I can hardly remember the names of those I’d met, the vividness of the events which took place, but I am comforted by the knowledge that they were at one point very real.
This year I’ve come to terms with that, perhaps more than ever before in my life. I know that time could never be delayed, that certain moments in life can never truly be revisited, and to waste effort into restoring them can be very futile. Those realizations have made this flag heavier ever since.
One year ago, arguably when I was at my worst, I made an oath.
I had a broken heart when I left in March. I was torn apart by my insecurities and my world seemed bleak from fears both real and imagined. I was faced with the choice as to whether to accept those things or to leave it all behind. The answer was as evident as the decision that came one evening and as clear as the moment as when I left it all behind.
When I came home, I thought that those wild days of adventure were perhaps the happiest in my life. I thought that I could replace those moments, bury those bittersweet memories of people I would never see and places that I might never revisit, and that was selfish of me. It felt as close to a betrayal to that same oath I made.
I’ve given it a lot of thought this year. I’ve tried to write those stories down, tried to make a difference to those that mattered most, and while so much more could have been done to benefit my own life I’ve been a fossil of those experiences. It was like one person said, out in Colorado, “An experience as incredible as yours will always haunt a person forever.”
One would think that the response to that may be all too obvious and arguably much simpler. It’s easy to abandon an oath, justified by reasons that are either selfish or rational, but for all the oaths and broken promises I have ever made, my mind keeps returning to this one small oath. It has little value or meaning in a materialistic world. No benefit other than some code of conduct, never meant to be understood by anyone other than its author.
I could shelter those memories, become absorbed inside them, and go mad with an obsessive desire to return to the past; blind to the present, bitter against the unknown future. Similarly I could forget them, brush them off, and carry on with my own life; be realistic, find education and work, allow those trivial and private moments to be washed away by the concerns of the immediate.It could be so much easier that way.One year later, that flag hangs off the drapes of my window curtains, no longer flying as openly and as proudly as it once had. I sit there sometimes, like this afternoon, and stare at it with contemplation. What thoughts I have on that matter are often private and often there are questions more than answers with such reflections. I wonder if all that effort was worth while, whether or not that experience had been for my benefit or that of everyone else I encountered.
There is some small comfort in being aware of that inner conflict, a reminder of the reality such matters carry. To say otherwise would be a terrible, obvious delusion.
Now one year later, after such a long period of time, after watching the world pass me by and friends come and friends go, I am prepared to answer those questions. Gods help me. I am prepared to answer those questions.
It’s worth it.
It will always be worth it.
Hear me now and listen very, very well.
I have a name.
I have earned many names and titles. I am Yellow of the House of Sin. I am wanderer, witness, and survivor. I am the Walker of the North, the Man from Nowhere; the Boy Named Fury, a Bastard of Time.
I am a Masked Deviant.
This is my oath.
I fly this flag still in the name of those before me, in the name of those present with me, and in the name of those that have yet to find their way. I fly it in the names of those that have walked the long roads, that have embarked on this journey, and those that have yet to find their way home.
I raise this flag still not as an act of aggression, vengeance, or retribution. I raise this flag as symbol of love, peace, and hope. I raise this flag as symbol of unity, identity, and companionship. I raise this flag as a sign of tolerance, understanding, and growth.
I lift this flag still as symbol of freedom, the right for decision, expression, and belief. I lift this flag as the flag bearers before me, by my own volition and my own choosing, that it should never be desecrated or destroyed, never tainted nor dismantled.
By my blood, my sweat, and my tears, I swear this oath. By my honor, my integrity, and my respect, I bind it in sacred trust. By my strength and spirit, I keep it by admission of the long road. May this oath forever gentle my condition, may it never be far from my heart; for this heart that beats with life, beats for those things this flag represents.
By my station, I will not betray this oath for self benefit or gain; by my role, I will not betray this oath by impunity, inaction, or irresponsibility. With this oath, I hereby swear to safeguard those that may or may not identify beneath it. With this oath, I hereby swear to shelter those that should embark on this journey, to protect and support them, always.By this oath, I bind myself as flag bearer, each year until I am unfit or unable. With honor, integrity, and respect, I hereby renew this oath.
“The Flag Still Stands”