Happiness Project: To all the words I loved before …

I like to think of myself as a complicated man (it’s been my experience that most people think they are, too … but no, really, I AM). I grew up in the country and have fought dirt clod wars, wormed cows and baled hay. At the same time, I studied medieval literature and swore off Bette Midler for the last 20 years.*

*I tried telling Bette to leave me alone. Yes she’s brassy, but CLINGY. I just said, “Enough woman, I banish you for the decade of the 1990s” … and it just has seemed to carry over.

I’ve hit a stage in life – a nice one – in which I’m old enough to know better but sometimes I’m too old to care. And at the heart of it all, I will admit to being a geek. A word nerd. I’m a writer, for heaven’s sake.

Thus, words make me happy. I love them. I’ve been accused of thinking too much, but some of these words give us a refreshing, summer-like view of life and why we’re spinning on this planet.

Like the people who’ve passed in and out of my life (and I feel like I should be breaking out in Willie Nelson/Julio Iglesias “To all the girls, I’ve loved before …”), I have words that have left a lasting impression on me. I think about these words, because in various areas of my life, they have spoken to me. They have spoken of the interconnectedness that we all share, because they sometimes give deeper meaning to something. They remind me that to hold two disparate ideas at the same time is more fascinating than insane.

Or maybe I like them just because I think words are cool.

  • Communicate – the same root word, “commune” is at the heart of the words community and common. It’s cool to me that the word we use for where we live is also the word for the process of exchanging information and ideas. When you add in that the word communion is also connected to this, it points to something other-wordly and un-defineable in how we communicate. Words themselves become the connection between people. It really is a mystery that we have specific words that mean specific things — like dog being a dog. But somehow, it’s like we have a connection we can’t explain, understanding where its unexpected and a yearning to be … connected with others.
  • Remember — Memories are sometimes all the happiness that we can tap into. But if you’re like me, I can’t say I have some catalogue in my head and can tap into those ideas and feelings at the drop of a hat. I have to remember them. I’d not thought much about what that means until someone pointed out to me the word is a combination of “re” and “member.” That’s awesome, folks! Memory isn’t about a little snapshot; it’s actually a process of making us whole again. It returns the displaced part of us, of our lives to a wholeness.
  • Adventure — A word used in the Christian church to evoke awaiting, anticipating something (advent) is the same word that we use when we talk about something exciting, heading into the unknown. The meaning seems to have evolved: one meaning before it happens and the other the entirety of the experience. And in the end, they both point to how we are changed and readied for something bigger and more important by walking boldly into the future.
  • Value — Not too much on this one, but I do like that it means both something that I place a worth on and at the same time, it means what is intrinsically important about something. It kind of points to the importance of the action of placing value on something … but at the same time, maybe not. It’s complicated.

There are other words. But you may have some of your own. Feel free to leave any you love in the comments, because they are likely to have made both of us happy at some point.

If you haven’t already, visit some of the other great people who have taken the happiness challenge … Here are links to their blogs:


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