Quote of the Day

Monday, August 20, 2012


I've never put an awful lot of stock in the meaning of dreams. It's interesting to think about things like symbology and hidden meaning, but they usually seem to me, when I can recall them, just a jumbled, distorted montage of the various thoughts, feelings and happenings of the everyday life. A movie trailer you saw here, a conversation you had there. 

About two weeks ago, for whatever reason, I spent a restless night tossing and turning, waking from strange dreams with a vague feeling of unease. In the early hours around dawn I found myself in that state of almost-conscious sleep and just drifting into a dream... I don't remember setting or context, all I know is that someone asked me a question: the name of an author, or actor maybe? "D.E. Flighting", I answered clearly in the dream, and then I woke up, the words feeling as if they had just rolled off my lips. 

"D.E. Flighting?" I thought. Who the hell is that? Is it a name I heard in passing, somewhere in the course of the day or the week, that somehow stuck in a small corner of my brain? Why had I remembered this? If not a name, maybe it was a message somehow. But what could it mean? De-flighting? I was going to be traveling on a plane the next week for the first time in a while. Could that have something to do with it? What if somehow my dream was telling me not to get on that plane?? 

I know this all sounds kind of crazy, especially for someone who doesn't normally assign too much meaning to dreams, but I had awoken with a certain sense of anxiety after a night of poor sleep, something that is really not normal for me. And the dream had been so brief, the last part so clear. I feel that it's rare that I even remember my dreams anymore, lately. In a sleepy moment of clarity right before drifting off again, knowing I would surely forget in the morning, I snatched my iphone from the charger and typed this mystery into my notes to look up later. And then I promptly passed out until my alarm went off.

It turns out it was a smart move as in the bustle of the workday, I didn't remember at all until I was about to leave the office. Somewhat trepidatiously, I typed "D.E. Flighting" into the Google Machine and waited for the screen to load, fully expecting to find no answer to my puzzle but curious, nonetheless. As suspected, there is no D.E. Flighting, author/actor/inventor/person-of-interest/man/woman extraordinaire. None. No one at all. At least not that google is aware of (in this day and age does a person even exist if they are not googleable??). Instead, I found this:

removing the ability of birds to fly; can be effected by monthly clipping of the flight feathers on one or both wings, temporarily by bandaging one wing in a flexed position, or permanently by pinioning or patagiectomy.

Well. This was a meaning I had not thought of. But it immediately resonated. I've always had a certain fascination with birds and the symbology that surrounds them. So... clipped wings, preventing fllght... damn. Could that have meaning relating to my life? It's true that lately I've felt frustrated in my work life--my "career"--trapped by practical reasons, by indecision. And I've been very torn on what exactly to do about it. So I guess you could say in this sense my wings are clipped, that I've been unable to fly, and though I desperately want to, maybe don't know how right now...

Or maybe it's not just about work. Is it that, unwittingly, I've clipped my own wings? In the wake of heartache from unwanted transition have I become a sort of emotional hermit, unable or unwilling to embrace new possibilities, at least for more than a day? Have I been focusing inward so much that I'm failing to really see the world around me? Maybe... and maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me to quit holding back, already.

Are dreams merely random or is there sometimes deeper meaning if we look closely enough? I haven't quite figured this out for myself, and as an agnostic I'm not one to form rash opinions.

The truth is, I don't really have answers. I don't know if that particular dream fragment actually held meaning for me or if so what exactly that may be. But I do know that something somehow put that word in my head, and jolted me to mental clarity just long enough for it to catch my attention, and make me really want to remember, to feel that it was important to. And whatever caused it, coincidence or not, I think it is something I need to stay aware of, in all aspects of life. In light of this, last week I took a small but crucial step in my personal life, one that was kind of terrifying, and also liberating, eye-opening, and about damn time.

Because the song the caged bird sings is a sad, sad tune and if I have anything to say about it, no one is going to hold me back, especially not me. When the time is right I want to be able to spread these wings and fly, baby, fly.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


We all have those things we've been meaning to do for forever, but for whatever reasontime, money, fear or good old-fashioned procrastinationwe don't. I finally did one of those things of mine a few weeks ago. I got the tattoo I've been wanting ever since I read East of Eden in 2009. It was about time, and it was the perfect time. I think it can best be explained by the passage that inspired it:

"But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man... Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win....Confucius tells men how they should live to have good and successful lives. But this—this is a ladder to climb to the stars.” Lee’s eyes shone. “You can never lose that. It cuts the feet from under weakness and cowardliness and laziness. This is not theology. I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed— because ‘Thou mayest.’"

Like Lee, I have "no bent toward gods". But that book and especially that passage kind of blew my mind in terms of my understanding of human nature. It also made me fall in love, or back in love, with the human soul and the light that sparks it, which is free will. So I got a tattoo as a reminder of the indomitable, sometimes transcendent, sometimes terrifying human spirit and the incredible power of free will: the power and freedom it gives us to give in or to fight, to hate or to forgive, to fear or to love. We are ultimately the creators of our own destiny, and we have the responsibility to ourselves to choose it, to fulfill it. Even when I feel like curling up into a little ball and surrendering to the world, when I think of this it gives me strength.

"Why the need for a tattoo?", some might ask. Why not just remind yourself in a less permanently-inked-into-your-body way? The thing is, it's really more than a reminder. It's a commitment and a promise to myself, in black and whiteor rather black and skin-tone, but really, my skin is pretty goddamn whitewith me forever, or at least as long as my body is. A promise to always exercise my free will as a human being; to be myself, and to be better, to make the changes I need to make. To "choose my course and fight it out and win". So I'm starting. I'm not sure what's ahead of me, but when I feel afraid or need inspiration, at least all I have to do is look down at my arm.

Because free will is everything. It's our ladder to the stars and, if we choose to follow it, the pathhowever maybe long and windingto our very best selves. The way is open. Timshel.