July 30, 2020 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Res judicata is a Latin phrase that means “a thing adjudicated.” It refers to the legal doctrine that after the final judgment in a case, the parties are bound by that judgment and are not allowed to keep on arguing the same issue against the same opponent by filing a new case. If they try, the judge will promptly dismiss the new case on the opponent’s request.

I work in legal publishing, and although I don’t often dream about my work, last night I dreamed that I was using legal terminology to write about my personal life. The only thing I remember about what I wrote in that dream was “No res judicata.” While still in the dream, I took a moment to reflect on that observation about my life, and then—just before waking up—I said to myself “Hey, this is really good!” And I woke up feeling remarkably cheerful.

The meaning of that dream seemed plain enough—I am not bound by the past. No matter what problems might have stressed me before, today’s issues are different enough that it’s not the same case. I am free to grow and flourish in new and better circumstances.

My backyard willow hedge, bright and green in summer.

The photo illustrating this post isn’t new; it shows my backyard willow hedge five years ago, and it was posted on this blog then. I reposted it because the hedge started dying back the year after the photo was taken, stressed by hot and dry summers after two unusually cold winters. A casualty of climate change, perhaps. It had more dead branches this year, and I finally decided to cut off all the old growth and let the willows grow back from the base, giving the hedge a fresh start without the burden of its past stress. I am hopeful that in another five years, the hedge will be tall and healthy again. No res judicata.

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