Remembering in the Fog, Dreaming in the Clouds

I just read in the news the following headlines: Eight Breakthrough Innovations in Technology.

Here are the breakthroughs of the breaking news:

1. Connecting to Consumers Through Ideas
2. Users Create Unique Social Portraits Based on Facebook and Twitter Feeds
3. A Multicharger That’s Both Stylish & Functional
4. This Week in Brand Strategy and Marketing
5. Text-Enabled Scavenger Hunt Offers A Novel Way to Explore Your City (<–?!?!)
6. Timberland’s Recycled Earthkeepers Micro Shop
7. Seth Godin: Have No Expectations in the Headlines (<—agreed…)
8. Fred Wilson: Program or Be Programmed: Learn how to hack something together so that you can get people interested in your idea…

Irony of Ironies. All is Ironic. And, truly, there is nothing new under the sun. There is only a constant rearrangement of boredom (cf. Eccles. 1:1-9).

A thousand years ago we did not have airplanes, but we did have the sky. We did not have iPhones, but we did have conversation. We did not have 1,000 friends, but we did have friendship.

There are many things that are useful, but there is nothing that is new. And most of what is used in new ways is no longer useful toward their intended ends. Planes were invented with a dream of getting closer to the sky. But nobody flies or dreams like that anymore. Now we fly simply to get further away. And we get upset if there is no inflight movie about a man who can fly.

Phones were invented with a dream of getting closer to people who were further away. But now we use them to get further away from people who are closer than everybody else. Sometimes we even takes flights to see people otherwise live in our phones and while there spend most of our time with people who live in our phones.

Friendship was invented with the dream of creatures who would look at each others’ eyeballs and never get over just how strange a thing is an eyeball and how miraculous a thing is sight. But we have found ourselves wandering through a world much less spherical than an eyeball, occasionally having to thump on the glass to see if our friends will even turn their heads, or if they are even real.

Perhaps, then, it is not our dreams we should pursue, but our memories. Perhaps the life of wisdom is a life spent learning what it is we have forgotten.

We have forgotten that daydreaming about flying always feels more miraculous than an airport. We have forgotten that the people who make airports so miserable are the same ones that fly everyday. But they still seem so miserably ordinary, even though people have from forever been dreaming of their lives. But only people could dream such big dreams and then make plans big enough to crush their dreams. No dog has ever worn a cape at night. But every single man who ever lived has, although most men quickly grow out of capes. Dreams remember that the whole world is magical until they become something other than dreams. Men turn dreams into plans, and exchange their capes for suits. I don’t know much about being a woman, but I do know that every little girl has dreamed of being a Blue Jay. I also know that not a single Blue Jay in the heavens or on the earth has ever dreamed of being something so miraculous as a little girl. They have not even dreamed of flying.

The newsfeed is stimulating, to be sure. But let’s be honest: it is not news and this is not friendship.

I remember the first times I heard news: it was every time I heard my grandfather tell the story of the day he saw my grandmother for the first time. “She was wearing a white dress. She looked like an angel.” And suddenly I couldn’t tell the difference between something old and something new. And in that lapse of time and space I would remember a dream that was either always there or always new. I remembered that angels were the reason I had always wanted to go looking for stars. And that girls in white dresses really are angels.

He would tell of different stories from the farmhouse and the fields and of plain things like being a family. And I would remember for the first time that I am homesick. Not only that, but I would ache with a longing for a home and a family of my own. It felt like the most distant and most ambitious dream of all. It felt like more of an innovation than the Internet or even the strange idea of time travel. I wasn’t sure it wasn’t time travel. In any case, it was the old that I wanted–and it was as old as memory itself, perhaps even as old as Dreaming–and I wanted it because I wanted it to become new.

Perhaps there is nothing as new as the memory of our fathers and nothing as innovative as the dreamworld where that memory can find its new home.


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