But I Am Present

But I Am Present

My happiness is me, not you.
Not only because you may be temporary,
But also because you want me to be what I am not.

I cannot be happy when I change
Merely to satisfy your selfishness.
Nor can I feel content when you criticise me
for not thinking your thoughts,
Or for seeing like you do.
You call me a rebel.
And yet each time I have rejected your beliefs
You have rebelled against mine.
I do not try to mold your mind.
I know you are trying hard enough to be just you.
And I cannot allow you to tell me what to be-
for I am concentrating on being me.

You said that I was transparent
And easily forgotten.
But why then did you try to use my lifetime,
To prove to yourself who you are?

The introduction to this book reads:

Michelle! You were with us for such a short time before choosing that fog-swept beach to continue on your way. It was July 1967, and you were only 20.  She left us twenty five poems. She found it too hard to be “just me.”  We hope these poems are presented as you wish, Michelle. You are present, we love you, and we need you, and we promise we will remember, until we meet again
….San Francisco, July 1969

I came across this poem when Leo Buscaglia shared it in one of his books, Living, Loving, and Learning.  While the ending of Michelle’s life is sad and tragic, she left some inspring words of wisdom that really touched my heart.

This poem stresses the importance of learning to be yourself and the difficulty we can face when attempting to do so.  An authentic life may be challenging and can upset those we love, but ultimate happiness can only exist when we are being true to ourselves.

I challenge you to take time to get to know who you are and do your best to live that truth each day.  I also challenge you to be open and supportive of others who are trying to do the same.