Monday, June 9, 2008


approaching my next birthday, i begin to think again of where i've come from, and where i'm going. and in doing so, i find that i have gone all over the place and yet in some ways haven't moved at all, a bit like john donne's twin compasses that "obliquely run" and yet "make me end where i begun."

bear with me a bit; we're not done yet with the literary references.

i was remembering another entry from my journal from several years ago because i'd been brooding over the fact that a friend was getting married at what i considered to be much too young an age, even as i wished for such happiness myself. i had a dream then that i recorded and which i can still recall because of its vivid qualities. i offer it again as insight into my feelings now:
june 13, 2005:
i dreamed last night of an intense, wonderful freedom.

i was with a large group of friends on a bright, sunny day. we were driving down a dirt lane with green fields on our left and a wood on our right. i sat in an open carriage with a young man who i couldn't really see; all i could see was the lane ahead of me, the horse drawing the carriage, the land, and the arm of this man-a black, tuxedoed arm-as he tried to control the horse. he kept losing the reins and i was laughing and enjoying the sunshine, and intermittently grasping his arm and the reins.

then we all turned down another road, all of our carriages, and came to a large clearing amidst tall trees where, spread out, were the interiors of a house without walls. suddenly we all split up, as if to play a large game of tag except it involved finding various clues and solving puzzles. and i found myself wandering down the lane and into a lovely field full of buttercups and wheat grass and i met someone from our party but we parted because we hadn't finished the game yet.

suddenly the field ended and i stood on the rocky cliff of the seashore and out among the shallows there was a large ship with sails, tipped up with its hull in the air over the rocks, like a beached whale. i asked someone where our name papers were, and they replied that they were up in the ship.

i climbed into the ship and was immediately in love with its ropes and sails and narrow stairways, and the bright, clear windows of the captain's cabin, but i couldn't find the papers. instead i found the ship's steering wheel and without thinking i reached out and turned it.

the ship lurched into the water, as if it were a great animal that could pick itself up, and began to sail.

at first i was horrified by what i had done by accident, but then i was thrilled by the deep blue sky in the horizon and the happy clear blue water. as i sailed, though, i accidentally ran the ship up against the shallows and somewhere i could hear my friend kristen chiding me to several girlfriends, "she knows exactly what she does and she does it anyway," but i knew that she didn't mean it angrily and somehow i felt as if she were smiling knowingly at me. i didn't care that i'd run the ship up; it was a challenge that i was happy to face, so i turned the ship away and sailed back on those beautiful waters, glad only to be the one who decided which way the wheel turned.

now, thinking about that glorious feeling of being out on the waves, in control of my own destiny and uncaring of what might happen so long as the decision were mine, i wonder what it means to be free. and what it means to be really, truly in love.

is it a freedom, a release, love? i never thought so, although in being bound we do have freedom from solitude, from loneliness, and from the startling unpleasantness of hearing one's thoughts echo back to one's head without being answered.

but for now the desire is to sail alone at full speed, "wherever the wind may drive the boat" until I find someone who is willing to sail alongside me and occasionally take the wheel.
of course, as a recent disney film reminds us (yes! there is even wisdom to be found in disney!), reflection is good but brooding is bad:

yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery, but today is a gift;
that's why it's called the present.

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