the signified

“there falls the rain, there comes the storm, darkens the sky
I wish to be with you on days like this and hold you tight.”

It’s a stormy morning, and these words return to my mind as I look at the gloomy sky. Despite the repeated creak coming from the stairs that are violently shaken by the wind, and the cascading sound of heavy shower, it’s brutally quiet. As if the rain has muted all human sounds. That’s my favorite part about rainy weather. The rain defeats us. It reduces us to vulnerable and fragile creatures. It extinguishes our arrogance.

I wrote the two above lines on a rainy summer afternoon 4 years ago, when I was in Vietnam. They were inspired by another person, but of course they are all about you now. Even the senses and the mood about that day are gone, no longer associated with these words. The signifier “you” remains the same, but the signified has changed. The old signified faded away, disappeared, and was rendered non-existent. You are the unique signified now, the same way you wholly inhabit my mind.

You gave me a book and said that it had a story, but I didn’t mind. In fact, not only your book, my words, or your dog (that you unconditionally share with me), and I guess everything else that makes up our own individual worlds, but both of us also have our stories. However, that should not matter. We are not owned by them forever.

I often think that essence is taken for granted. We actively attach meanings to things in our life. The structuralists have separated the signifier from the signified because their association is arbitrary. Meanings are not intrinsic or incorrigible. If we can’t control what happen to us, then at least we can decide what it means.


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