A friend stopped by one morning recently and said her “word for the year” is “curiosity.” That is a terrific word and I told her that curiosity is the foundation for learning so this will be a year of learning as she explores what she is curious about. I wondered if many things that I hear and see and do circle back to my being a lifelong learner and whether my bias prevented me in any way from exploring further what makes her curious and why, of all the possible word choices, she selected that one. Or as she said, it came to her. Choosing our words consciously, thoughtfully and carefully will certainly facilitate better communication.
That very brief morning conversation set off a small stream of thoughts about how we choose our words, what words seem to choose us and why we choose a particular word for ourselves. I wondered also what words we might choose for others, given that opportunity, especially those whom we know rather well. That could be an interesting exercise or dialogue with someone.
I am one who has been fond of words since I learned to read, some 75 years ago, so it’s hard to imagine how many words, paragraphs, pages and books I have consumed and what remains stored on my hard drive. I still enjoy reading and finished recently Tom Friedman’s “Thanks For Being Late” the title of which is revealed in a story about Tom’s having time to think before meeting someone. However, the book is about the digital revolution that is affecting us all in one way or another and is called “an optimist’s guide to thriving in the age of accelerations.” I am currently reading “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci” by Michael J. Gelb. As an aside, being curious is the first of the seven DaVincian principles.
Someone asked recently what word people would consider getting as a tattoo to wear for the rest of their lives. That set off a rather interesting discussion. A word that you would wear permanently? I saw a picture of the word “courage” tattooed on a wrist and that daily presence seems like a great reminder. The word that came to me in this context was “breathe” as I see it for both people and plants as life giving and sustaining. I doubt I will have it tattooed anywhere although it’s helpful, especially in meditation, to be aware of our breathing rather than just stay on auto pilot.
To keep this piece brief and to the point, as I tend to wander and digress more often than not, I want to put another word out there. I cannot say I will hold onto it for an entire year as my attention span for such endeavors seems to decrease in proportion to each year passing more quickly. So maybe I will choose this word for the next few months. The word is “generous” and I choose it because of all that has been given to me. That suggests “gratitude” as a good choice. Regardless, I will see how I can give and receive generously while continuing to “breathe” deeply and gratefully. Seems like good word choices, at least for now.