What’s in a word?  I LOVE words… have done for as long as I can remember.  When I was a kid I apparently memorized poems, songs… learned ‘em at kindergarten, or from the nanny next door, and would come home and recite them with great gusto to my parents. (I don’t actually remember this, but see them all in the memorabilia album my mom put together. ) 

In elementary school I even liked working on the spelling lists for the tests on Fridays, and later took great pleasure in college vocabulary list , many pages long. A treat these days is the “Word of the Day”, which flies into my in-box from Miriam-Webster.  I check it early in the day, noting, “Ah, that one’s a friend, know the definition(s), could use it confidently.”  Or, “Ah, that’s a new one, or not very familiar…” and I look forward to reading the meaning, and then scrolling down to learn the etymology, and see the examples of its use.  This all gives me great pleasure…almost like being on a treasure hunt, without having to go anywhere at all 🙂   The whole world of words is right here, immediately accessible…

Knowing and learning words gives me a, perhaps illusory(!), sense of capacity and control, in a world that is spiralling out crazily in some areas.  But I ramble…:-)  Before I delve a little deeper, I want to share what inspired this post. I came across this picture, which is kinda cool.  

what's in a word

But when I read the text, I burst out laughing…

“A truck loaded with thousands of copies of Roget’s Thesaurus crashed yesterday losing its entire load. Witnesses were stunned, startled, aghast, taken aback, stupefied, confused, shocked, rattled, paralyses, dazed, bewildered, mixed up, surprised, awed, dumbfounded, nonplussed, flabbergasted, astounded, amazed, confounded, astonished, overwhelmed, horrified, numbed, speechless, and perplexed.” 

I laughed so hard and deeply that I had to share it far and wide!  I also loved some of the responses I got back. Our 16 year old granddaughter wrote: “Aw that’s sweet! I laughed, chortled, snickered, giggled, cackled, howled and guffawed ;-)”

What’s in a word?  Delving a bit deeper: on my spiritual path, the Diamond Approach, Inquiry is one of the basic practices.  We start where we are, feel into, notice, allow our present experience.  Then usually we articulate what we notice… and in the articulation, in the putting into words, I often find that my experience deepens… I may notice other, subtler dimensions, am able to track the experience as it unfolds, changes…  that just staying with the experience in a wordless way, may not.  Quite a lot in a word, I’d say!

Giving voice to my experience also calls on other aspects of knowing; it lets me check out whether indeed, the words I have chosen actually do justice to what’s unfolding for me.  And sometimes they do not.  There are certainly times when words simply do not apply… and this is marvellous too.  Words can lead me/us to the edge of the ineffable…the wordless/nameless...let us peak over the edge into the Mystery.  What an extraordinary gift!  

And then there is of course writing… another wonderful pleasure and way to use words… to record, to remember, to explore, to share.  For example my travelogs on our long bike trips.  I love occasionally re-reading them, and pulling up our many magical experiences — camping, making friends, surviving crazy storms, bike troubles. Reading makes the trips come alive again.  I loved creating them, then sharing them. I had sometimes to be careful that I stayed in the moment with the actual biking… and did not get so caught up with playing with words and how to describe our trip, that I wasn’t present to the fullness of the cycling itself!  

This is certainly a caveat:  words can be seductive, and can take us away, distract us, from what’s happening, what’s really here, now….whether on a bike trip, in real life, or in an Inquiry.  The map is not the territory… and words are really often pointers to something deeper, other.

My book, Becoming: Journeying Toward Authenticity, was, and is, a record, in words, evoking (ah, another capacity of words — evocation!) SEEs (Significant Emotional Experiences), teachers, teachings in my life, that have contributed to my unfolding, learning, softening, deepening… and these blog posts are further explorations of just such experiences — human experiences… to share, learn from, evolve together.  Words, pointers, reminders, connectors, evokers…

And of course there is Journalling.  I don’t journal daily, but have done lots in the past.  A richly illuminating and helpful workshop for me was with Christina Baldwin, in her marvellous offering: Life’s Companion: journal writing as a spiritual practice.  

What’s in a word?  How do words enrich/limit/control/deepen/create!! your experience… affect your life?  I’d love to know.  We’re in this together. Oh, and Scrabble is so much fun!!

In closing, here’s a quote from an ancient sage, sweetly apropos!

The point of a fish trap is the fish: once you’ve got thefish, you can forget the trap. The point of a rabbit snare is the rabbit: once you’ve got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. And the point of a word is the idea: once you’ve got the idea, you can forget the word. How can I find someone who’s forgotten words, so we can have a few words together?” Chuang Tzu

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, andgrowth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook.

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