There's a bit of dialogue in this scene from the X-Men 2 movie that jumped into my memory today. The teenage mutant Pyro, who (as his name indicates) has the ability to telekinetically control fire, is wary at being questioned by Magneto, an older mutant he's heard of but is meeting for the first time.
Magneto: What's your name?
Magneto (holding Pyro's lit cigarette lighter) : What's your real name, John?
Pyro (summons the flame to his hand, gazing at it for a moment before he speaks) : Pyro.
Magneto: Quite a talent you have there, Pyro.
Pyro: I can only manipulate the fire. (He closes his hand and the flame vanishes.) I can't create it.
X-Men 3 Pyro sketch by cklum - unlike the rest of this post, this image isn't open-licensed.
It's the last part that struck me. I can only manipulate the fire. I can't create it.
I'm far better at taking something someone else has started and building momentum around it than I am at being the person who starts the thing, keeps leading it, keeps an eye on the wood to feed the steady burn, kindles the deep glowing of embers that last. I'm lighter fluid. I do fireworks, bonfires, things that bring more people in - because perhaps a few of them will be deeper burners, folks that can have the kind of steadiness I don't, make the things I care about last, because I know I'm inconsistent.
In the absence of those folks, in the absence of those who start the fire, my talent to grow it, swirl it, throw it - my talent means nothing. And when I let loose, I hope to god someone is thinking of the safety net, ready to shout if ropes are fraying or the fuel is running out. Because I don't. And I shouldn't, in the middle of it all - I'll check those things beforehand, I'll look at them afterwards - but when I'm blazing, I am blind - have to be blind to all that. And I know it.
And it's okay. The world needs sprinters just as much as it needs marathoners; it needs catalysts, but we need something to catalyze. I'm at my best when I dive into chaos and make something from them - chaos is my raw material. I cannot conjure nothing up from silence. but I cannot conjure something up from silence.
So I'm going to go and find some noise.