It’s high, I was told, very high

Today I can choose
To talk about the weather
Or about what interests me
I can choose
To be quiet and listen
To what I’ve already heard a hundred times
Or I can say what I think.
I can choose to make an effort
to define my freedom
Or just let it follow the current of nothingness.
I can decide today
whether to stay in my shell
made of lies and cotton
Or go out into the world.
made of realities

I can decide today
If I will live one more day
Without even noticing
That I’m alive
That I exist
That I have intentions
That I have ideas
That I have feelings
That I have responsibilities
That I have longings for justice
That I have a desire for peace
That I have a brain.

But if I go out I’ll find
That there is a sick neighbor
And a child dying on the corner
And a mother who does not know
how to become one
because no one ever taught her
And an old man with broken feet
And a teenager dying
in his own shit and vomit
Because the door to paradise is closed
until further notice
And another young woman who ignorantly
had an abortion because she was told
that having a child is very expensive
That existing is very expensive
That being is very expensive
That loving is the most expensive thing
That everything we do has a price

Who will take responsibility for such monstrosity?
What disgusting system is this one?
What is the price of rebellion?
I am interested in paying that price

It’s high, I was told, very high,
And you have to have the courage to begin
Because with every step I take
I will become freer and will free others

But it will not be without huge resistance
I will be a stranger to my acquaintances
I will be a dissident to the cowards
I will be a nuisance to the powerful
I will be a laughing stock to the intellectuals
I will be naive to the cynics
I will be incomprehensible to those who say they love me
I will be a perfect target for those who hate me
I will also be a reference
For everyone stuck in the same dilemma

Life is slipping away every second
And there is no time for decorations
No time for speeches with beautiful words
No time to get lost in the details
There are no more doubts to be clarified
There is no one who will do it for me.

Today I can choose
Between believing that I am living
And really trying to live
And under what conditions do I want to live?
Under conditions worthy of a human being
Where the word “expensive”
does not translate into any language
And the word justice has nothing to do with laws
And the word equality needs no justification
And the word “human” evokes the same music in everyone

That moment must not be so far away
If I can write about it today
If I can yearn for it today
If I can try to build it today
Maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up
And no one will tell me the time
And the old man’s legs will be healed
And a child will be born bringing great joy
And a young man will decide to compose an ode to the world
And we will all sit down and applaud his idea

On that day nobody was exploited, or exploited anyone else.
No one judged themselves or anyone else
Nobody did anything important
Because the only important thing was our lives
And we lived them fully that day.

Portland Oregon, June 8, 1998