When someone asks if something is possible, I love being free to say Absolutely!
No qualification, restriction, or limitation; totally.
Words are very important, not only as the means to grasp things, but also to open worlds.
Karen Armstrong offers an example of this when she writes about how Europeans didn’t have words to deny the existence of God until the end of the eighteenth century, but then things changed:
‘a vernacular language such as French lacked either the vocabulary or the syntax for scepticism. Such words as ‘absolute,’ ‘relative,’ ‘causality,’ ‘concept,’ or ‘intuition’ were not yet in use.’*
Yesterday, I was with a group providing someone with new words and images to think about their work. These words weren’t new and made-up but borrowed from other places.
Improving the vocabulary we use for ourselves and the contribution we make is critical.
“Take me down to the spring of my life, and tell me my nature and my name.”**
I’ve found new words to be critical for me when it comes to seeing and trying new things – things which have become very important to me, like the word doodle. Just over three years ago I didn’t doodle. I didn’t even notice the word until Hugh Macleod got my attention. Doodling opened up a world of dawdling and wandering and mindfulness and slowness, towards the publishing of a book of doodles to take us on the slow journeys we need to find in life.^
As I continued to think about the importance of words, I turned to read Seth Godin’s recent blog identifing three ways in which we can hide:
‘The critic, the mimic and the clown all have one thing in common. They’re not doing the work. Pitching in requires a different kind of focus, and the generosity and humility to actually get something done. If they stop hiding, they might even produce something significant.’^^
We can hide when we haven’t taken the time to increase the words that describe us and our work, when we haven’t realised this is what we are meant to be doing. As Ursula Le Guin proffers, words open our futures:
‘Words are what matter. The sharing of words. The activation of imagination through the reading of words.’*^
Anne Lamott shares how she found an oasis from the difficult things of her childhood by reading, though warns there’s a risk of isolation – which is why the group I mentioned earlier met together:
‘Reading helped us get blissfully lost in resonant worlds where we could rest or gape or laugh with recognition but then we looked up again, at the dinner table, or the blacktop, or church, and we couldn’t close the covers of this spooky books.’^*
We need new words, new pictures, new worlds to help us be who we are and do what we love. Words lie in the background to my doodling hero Hugh Macleod’s encouragement to pursue what we love to do:
‘What you love to do will grow with you, so long as you stay true to who you are and allow yourself to change and develop freely.⁺
Time to live life absolutely.
(*From Karen Armstrong’s A History of God.)
(**George Appleton, quoted in the Northumbria Community’s Morning Prayer.)
(^Slow Journeys in the Same Direction is coming out soon and can be pre-ordered.)
(^^From Seth Godin’s blog The critic, the mimic and the clown all have one thing in common.)
(*^From Ursula Le Guin’s Words Are My Matter.)
(^*From Anne Lamott’s Hallelujah Anyway.)
(⁺From gapingvoid’s blog Life Without Dissonance.)