Flying off versus staying put

The strong and mysterious quote by Toni Morrison given to us in the syllabus threw me for a loop when I first read it. I did not know where to start to unpack the meaning. When the class was asked to interpret our epigraph for the course, so many different meanings were revealed. Everyone had their own interpretation, which was refreshing and confusing at the same time. How would we ever determine the true meaning? Well, I have come to realize that there is not just one meaning to Morrison’s quote. To me, the quote, “You just can’t fly on off and leave a body” from Song of Solomon holds a lot of significance, not only in the book itself, but also in life. I believe it is about the importance of self accountability in upholding your responsibilities and having care, a valuable lesson that everyone could learn from. The course epigraph led me to create these goals for myself for this semester, to hold myself accountable to my responsibilities with care, not abandoning this class, and using these valuable insights outside of INTD 105.

With the sentiment that “you just can’t fly on off and leave a body,” as well as the book we will be studying throughout the course, the epigraph has a deeper meaning in Song of Solomon even before it is quoted. In the first chapter of the book, a man named Robert Smith was on top of a hospital, getting ready to jump. He was an insurance agent in the town the story is set in, and was not taken seriously by his clients or any of the townspeople. Robert wore makeshift blue wings atop of the building, as people stopped and watched to see if he would jump. Robert ended up jumping, and the reaction of the townspeople was minimal. After he jumped, the book included, “Jumping from the roof of Mercy was the most interesting thing he had done. None of them had suspected he had it in him. Just goes to show, they murmured to each other, you never really do know about people.” (Song of Solomon, pg. 8). The lack of regards that the people surrounding Robert Smith had towards him and his flight was shocking to me at first. How could no one care for a man who was about to fly away to his death on purpose? Though, the actual quote that is the basis for our class was not mentioned during this part of the book when there was a man trying to literally fly away. This made me wonder if there was any significance to this part of the book that will be revisited later, perhaps when the quote is read in its rightful place. I am wondering if it will be about responsibility. This brings me to a goal for this course. Even though INTD 105 is required for students for their general education, I still signed up to take this class and this section. I cannot turn on my responsibilities for this class and its work just because I do not feel it is important. I have a responsibility to do all of my work, with care, and try my best in the course. Leading my actions for this course with care is the most important thing for me this semester as it will show my responsibility and accountability that I owe to it.

Another way that I interpreted the quote, “You just can’t fly on off and leave a body,” was the thought of abandonment. Leaving something, in this case a body, seems almost sacrilegious in the context of Morrison’s quote. To me, there is significance in the three words, “You just can’t.” The inclusion of “you” seems to call out the reader, or whoever the quote was being aimed towards in the book, which we do not know yet. This action is personal when I read it, almost like Morrison is directing the order at me. The inclusion of “just can’t” comes across as a plea. Flying off is not an option according to Toni Morrison, as for the body that you just can’t leave, we do not know yet what this is alluding to. The most significant interpretation that stuck with me was that you cannot abandon your responsibilities. If you just go off and leave something, it is never going to get done, leaving you with a task unaccomplished. There really is no escaping your responsibilities, whether big or small, they are still going to be there. The question is whether you face them, or deal with the consequences of avoiding them. As this course continues on, a goal of mine is to make sure that I complete all of my tasks and responsibilities to the best of my ability. If I do not complete something, it will still be there looming over me, most likely in the form of a zero in the gradebook. So, why not just complete it on time and not fly on off and leave that body. I believe that this sentiment will not only help me in this course, but in all aspects of my life and in my future.

Using the interpretation of the importance of carrying out your responsibilities from the class epigraph is beneficial to the entire course, as well as all courses in our educational careers. This course is intended for reading, writing, and discussion, and has a list of learning outcomes the students should have by the end of the course included in the syllabus. The second outcome is, “The ability to write and revise sustained, coherent and persuasive arguments on significant issues that arise from the content at hand” (syllabus, page 1). This means that by the end of the semester, we should be able to create our own arguments and writing pieces based on the readings and knowledge given to us. Being responsible and trying my best to implement these methods in my schoolwork will benefit me greatly in this class, as well as carry that knowledge to other classes. This also ties into the basis of our course, which is having good faith. In Dr. Beth’s welcome video to the class on canvas, she introduces the course and puts an emphasis on care. Specifically for our own growth, our peers, growth, and our own accountability. This welcome video not only introduces the course, but it establishes the responsibility that the students taking this course have. We have to most importantly be accountable to ourselves, with our actions, our discussions, and our work dedicated to the class. Without being accountable for ourselves and our responsibilities, we will get nowhere. It is up to the individual to face their responsibilities head on and give it their all, or else they will have to face whatever consequences and guilt comes their way. Being accountable in this course from the beginning has already helped me a great deal in how I approach my work, inside and outside of our class. Overall, in this INTD course and in all courses in someone’s educational career, it is up to the individual to be accountable for their responsibilities as students to facilitate an adequate and beneficial learning environment to grow and gain knowledge from.

Overall, Toni Morrison’s quote, “You just can’t fly on off and leave a body” holds a lot of meaning in one sentence. As our course epigraph, it is especially important to our class to follow its meanings and take them into consideration while conducting ourselves in and out of class. The goals I made for myself for this semester, tending to my responsibilities with care, not abandoning my work, and using the values I have learned outside of INTD 105, have been based off of this epigraph, which will inevitably establish itself as a part of my life forever.

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