Sunday, December 11, 2011

Quote Sunday

Today's quote comes from Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. I read it like 2 weeks ago, and I loved it. Like I said, Morrison is pure genius.
The scene occurs where two boys see a peacock sitting on the roof of the hospital in their town in Minnesota. They have no idea how on earth it got there. They watch as it fails miserably at flying. One boy asks why it can't fly "better than a chicken". The other explains why.

"Too much tail. All that jewelry weighs it down. Like vanity. Can't nobody fly with all that shit. Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down."

I love this because it's important. And it's secretly complicated. The concept is fairly straightforward: live simply. Get rid of all the unnecessary shit in your life. But I think there's another dimension here, because it's about letting yourself fly. It's the idea that you control your own life, and that many limits are there only because you placed them upon yourself. Sure, there are things each of us can and can't do, and there are circumstances that we can't change. I'm not okay with saying to people "well, if you only worked harder you would be okay", because things are so much more complicated than that. But I do think that we have capacity to examine our lives and understand how much of those limits are self-imposed. I think that what Morrison is saying is that flight (and freedom) only comes when you allow yourself to get rid of those self-imposed limits.
For me, it means doing things like staying in my calc class even though I failed the final, because I'm not willing to say "I failed it and clearly I'm not capable of passing it" . It means I see it and say "I can do better." It means doing things like apologizing, even for small things, which really is not something I do naturally. But I'm working on doing it more frequently, because I'm learning that humility is actually pretty damn important. And it means doing things like sharing my feelings, little by little, with my mom. Because even though I generally keep her at arm's length, she is my mother and I love her and I want a better relationship with her.
So, that's my two cents for the week. But I want to tell one more story.
When I was in maybe 2nd or 3rd grade, they had us fill out this spotlight survey. I distinctly remember the question "if you had 3 wishes what would they be?" I answered "to fly, to fly, to fly", because the real answer was to have my parents back, but I knew by then not to put that down, and the only other things I could think to want was to fly. Anything else I could get. Maybe that's why I dream of flight so deeply, because it's the thing I can't earn or buy. And I don't think I'll even ever be able to put all the shit down. But I'll be damned if I don't try my hardest.

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