“You’re in Olympus. Among the Pantheon. And actually, I think — I’ d give *anything* to switch places with you. . .” — Oracle, “JLA: Heroes”
To the members of the JLA:
By the time you receive this letter, I will be gone.
You may be wondering why I chose to write a letter, instead of sending an e-mail. After all, I’m surrounded by technology of the latest kind, of the highest power and fastest speed, some even surpassing that possessed by the FBI and world governments. Which was exactly the reason why I didn’t want to send an e-mail. An e-mail would’ve reached you within milliseconds, and you would’ve read this before I even had time to move.
I need to move.
I needed to write this letter. I wanted to write this letter. For too long I’ve been surrounded by computer screens and digits formed by pixels, images sharpened by high resolution, a confined and enclosed space that always, always reiterates my role as the Oracle. Equipment made of cold plastic and chilling metal. I needed to have something warm to touch, something real to hold, a texture to feel beneath and between my fingers. To write on, to write with, instead of seeing the words and expressions come up on the lonely screen before me. I have stared at the screen for too long, for too many times already, and I weary of it.
It wasn’t easy getting this letter to the Tower. After all, I couldn’t exactly tell the post office to deliver this to “JLA Headquarters, the Moon” — for one thing, I don’t know the exact postcode, and secondly, the postage alone would’ve been outrageous. I had to plan carefully, calculating the time it would take me to leave without anyone noticing. Which, as you know, isn’t easy, considering the Bat-family that roams here. I’d addressed this letter to Wally West in Keystone City, giving me time, since it would take a few days for the letter to reach him from its postmark in Gotham City. A sealed envelope with specific instructions telling him to wait until all the JLA members were gathered in the Tower before he opened the letter and read it aloud. That was the only way I could buy enough time to slip away, hopefully unnoticed.
I would like to go to the moon one day. Perhaps I might. Anything’s possible, as I’ve found out over the years.
I am the Oracle. Here to serve my duty, to answer all questions posed to me by those who seek my help, to guide them in their quest for solutions and discovery and justice. I see all and know all, and answer all. Well, that’s what oracles are supposed to do, right? That’s their job. People come for answers and leave satisfied, enter and retreat, ever-changing, sometimes never returning, sometimes becoming regular visitors. They move in and out, in and around, hovering close and far. They move.
I, however, cannot.
I must remain here to answer. I cannot leave, because there will always be people and there will always be questions. There will always be help to provide, information to seek, the world to save, or just a city, or just a person, or just a cause. There will always be a need. And sometimes that need becomes too much.
Please forgive me, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. You’ve provided me with so much opportunity to help others, to do good, to fight in my own way alongside you. To serve from behind the scenes, watching and holding my breath until everything is safe once more, allowing me the chance to release a relieved sigh and watch proudly from behind the curtains. I’m honored to know you.
It’s not that I wish to be on the other side of the curtains, to be on the stage, where the attention is. I was there, once. And yes, I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it, that I didn’t treasure and savor the freedom and excitement. I loved swinging from the rooftops. I loved to fly.
But that isn’t why I’m leaving. I’m still helping in the fight now, with my mind, and not just for my city but for the world too, and sometimes even the universe. I’ve grown accustomed to watching you fight for justice, and I admire your courage, the battles you’ve gone through physically and mentally. I’m proud to know you, and to play my own part in your cause. In our cause.
But I find myself bending against my will, succumbing to the pressure on my shoulders. The overwhelming pressure to always have the right answers. I’ve had nightmares where I imagine myself calculating wrongly, out of exhaustion or weariness or – God forbid – apathy, and because of this wrong result, cause a life to be lost, or some big catastrophe that explodes right in my face. And I wake up screaming, sweating, begging forgiveness from the imagined dead for that little mistake.
I am bending, and I don’t want that. I’m not retreating because I’m weak and can’t take the pressure — I’m retreating because I don’t WANT to be weak or unable to take the pressure. I need to take action now, to stop it, to strengthen myself. I don’t want to get to the point where I become weary and jaded, ready to succumb to apathy towards casual lives. I don’t want to come to the point one day where I would think without guilt, “If a few lives must be sacrificed in order for the rest of us to live, so be it.” That would be a crime too monstrous for me to commit.
Already I’ve had to make a similar choice, a long time ago in the case of Julian September. I hurt everytime I think about it, but at least I hurt. At least I feel. I want to continue to feel, because at least it means I’m still human. Right now I’m bending, and I don’t want to BREAK.
Please understand, I don’t intend to desert you. I will not be gone forever. I will return. But I don’t know when — perhaps in a few weeks. Or a month. Maybe more, if need be. My soul just needs to recuperate. My physical and emotional resources have been taxed, have been exhausted, and I don’t know how to rejuvenate them, or if I even can. I only know I must try. So much has happened, so much is needed, even though in reality it has only been a short time since I became the Oracle. But I need to rest, need to learn to think in soft gentle spurts instead of hard clinical analyses. I need to learn to relax and let go, instead of letting my muscles lock up out of habit everytime online research goes late into the early morn. My spiritual wings, cut and bleeding for so long, need to regrow and take flight.
Part of me is ashamed for being so selfish. Many of you have dedicated your lives to fighting for justice, to being saviors of your cities and your worlds, and not once complained or asked for rest in a never-ending battle. Hearts so pure and good and sincere, whereas I feel like a coward, wanting to retreat into my own little world for a while, merely because I am “tired.” Many of you are past the point of tired, yet you bravely soldier on — another reason I admire you so much. Sometimes I feel so small and incapable, even more so when I realize that some of you depend on me greatly, that my absence may make your work even more difficult than it already is. I almost hate myself for doing this, and if anything happens – anything – I will never forgive myself.
But I need to learn to be me for a while. To learn to be a person, a human being, mortal. So many times I’m surrounded by heart-shattering risks and deaths that I need to take a mental step back to look on what it means to be a mere person, an insignificant yet significant matter on this planet. But that mental step is never long enough, never deep enough, for there’s always something that requires my attention. More lives to save, more criminals to apprehend, more problems and riddles to solve, that I forget that I am just human. I’m not perfect. I’m not unbreakable. I am just. . . me.
There are some of you that I need to address personally. Well, as personal as this letter can get, at any rate. If you’ll bear with me. . .
Batman — What can I say? You’re one of the greatest minds on this Earth. I’m grateful to have had a chance to have known you, to have stood beside you once, to work with you always, and to find that beneath all those masks and layers, you truly are of flesh and blood. Even if some people may find that hard to believe. Thank you for helping me, and for letting me help you, and for protecting me – everyone – in Gotham City all this while. Your presence is one of the things that assures me that I WILL return to Gotham and JLA once again. Thank you for giving me a cause. Please don’t worry about what to tell Nightwing or Robin of my absence. I’ve taken care of that. You are my family, after all.
Superman — I came to know you only through our mutual contact, Batman, but it’s been an acquaintance I will never forget. You are perhaps the purest and most sincere person I have ever met. Despite what you’ve seen, you maintain such hope and optimism. You represent such goodness in our hearts, and your strength and courage to continue fighting and hoping is like a ray of light in the cold lonely darkness of desperation.
J’onn — Have I ever met anyone as gentle and intelligent and wise as you? If I have, I fail to remember. It would probably be an insult to tell you how human you are, but you are. I would love to know what your people and your family were like, if only to better know you. Your uncanny perceptiveness and intelligence, your quiet strength and intense loyalty has been a help to Earth, to the JLA, and to me. You will never know the measure of gratitude we all owe you.
I don’t know the rest of the JLA members as closely as I would like to, but in so many ways, I do. Thank you for allowing me a chance to be a part of you. You don’t know how much that means to me.
I hope you will not try to find me, though I know some may try. J’onn has powerful telepathy after all; Superman has speed and X-ray vision; the Flash moves faster than light; Batman’s dedication is both awe-inspiring and frightening. I know you care, and I thank you. But for a short moment, let me find a way to live again. Let me breathe in air and thank the Lord above that it is there, that food and light and earth and beauty and hope still exist out there. Let me recharge my energy and steel myself so that I will not, and will never, break. Let me rediscover what it means to be alive. For a little while — let me fly.