Solving a Dream

I read an article recently in which the author juxtaposes the related meanings of "solve" and "solution" to make the case that interpreting dreams can help us determine how we fit into the larger picture that is life.

But he was explicit in his use of the terms, applying their Latin, scientific roots. "Solve" simply meant to loosen or release, while "solution" represented a mixture of such dissolved ingredients.

One, or rather, I must wonder whether our continuous reinvention of these words has muddled the water of our own thinking. After a millennium or two, these words have almost exclusively become associated with problems. As in problem-solving. As in the solution to a problem. Sure, you might hear a chemist use these terms in their native meaning. Otherwise, no.

And, as you might imagine, these aren't the only words to have taken on different connotations over time. This tends to be the rule, not the exception. Think of "cunning" or "ignorant," both straightforward and unbiased originally. (Who now wants to be called ignorant of nuclear physics, even if it's true?) Think of "explicit" used just a couple of paragraphs earlier. Although it merely meant perfectly clear just decades ago, its association with pornography alone will doom it to bright yellow labels in no time at all.

It makes one (me again) wonder whether the initial users of these words, the inventors, had them right the first time, and all we've done is confuse issues by piling on these different definitions. I mean, how are we supposed to fix anything if we can't agree on basic terminology? And why did we let it get this garbled?

Maybe solving a dream is little more than finding our spot in the solution.