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Uh O, It's the "D" Word!
Words carry power. They can build up or they can tear down potentially. How about words that carry different connotations to various audiences? What about times when we have either heard a sentence & thought to ourselves, “I don’t think I heard that correctly” or “no way did that person just say that!” Then there are the times that we may have spoken words that we wish we could press the rewind button on.
Most of us teach our children early on that there are some words that are prized like “please” and “thank-you.” We may consider these words foundational and exceptional building blocks of community building & respect for our life journeys. The word “please” becomes a respectful baseline of working together with others. “Thank-you” represents daily gratitude. Those words are keepers! They are words that cannot be outworn & are just as fresh to hear & use as an adult as the time the words were introduced to us in childhood.
If we are a parent, we may reminisce upon the list of first words spoken by our children. Hearing the words “Da Da” or “Momma” is magical to parents. As a funny aside, our oldest son, Matt shared those first words with us as well. Quickly followed by those words were the phrases “a bee, a bee, a bee”, “clock”, and “it’s a secret mission.” When Matt was 4 years old, every night he would hold my hand as we ascended the stairs to his room for sleep time. Each night, Matt would say the same thing to me as we went up the stairs. It was always, “we are going on a secret mission!” He has always had a creative & wonderful sense of humour. It brings a smile to my heart to remember these precious growing up years with our sons. The words that they each learned & gravitated towards have been & continue to be exciting. Each of our sons has learned that we all have choice over our words & that some words have the power to hurt & others to heal. There are times when each one of us stumble & say something that we wished that we had not. That is where an apology without an excuse is the finest antidote that I can think of personally. Why is it that an apology for some folks seems to require an anti-chocking first aide Maneuver? We so often hear the phrase that “none of us are perfect” or “we are only human” or “that is human.” There appears however to be a “disconnect” between admitting that the human being is not perfect & offering healing words & action when we stumble. I have learned along the way that if I choose to quiet my ego that beyond the ego there is a place where humility lives. It takes humility to admit that we have stumbled in the choice of some words & offer that genuine apology…the one that is not followed up quickly with rationale or excuses for why we said what we said.
Okay, Saundie, what has lead to these thoughts about words & their associated connotations? Has anyone noticed that some words seem to be being over used to the point where they have become meaningless? The one that I find absurd these days is the word, “special.” This word can be used to describe something especially wonderful or unique or it could be employed in a sarcastic or passive aggressive manner to potentially tear something or someone down. There is a comedy sketch by George Carlin that speaks to the over use of the word “special” in reference to children. He points out that children are constantly being referred to as each being “special.” He goes on to ask the question, “at what age do people stop being special?” He asks whether as adults we hear the tendency to label grownups as “special.” Often within humour, there is a wee bit of truth don’t you find? Do I think children are amazing? Yes I do…big time! Do I think adults are sensational as people too? Of course & I add, big time to that too! How would I choose to describe children and adults instead of “special?” My natural answer is “beautiful originals!”
What is the “D” word then? Wait for it, wait for it… Are you expecting me to say diabetes? Surprise! The “D” word is “different!” What if I told you that I used that word recently with a child intake worker & she nearly jumped out of her chair with denial that anyone is different? It was a strange moment. It was in reference to behavior. Can we each have different behaviours? I hope so. If we are not part of what would be the parallel world of the Borg in a Star Trek episode, then can we be okay with the word, “different” & consider alternative words to the word, “special?” We each get to answer that question for ourselves. What I am wondering about though is how does one get to be special without being different. It is like there is this bizarre message that we are meant to be special yet at the same time the same as everyone else. Hmm, that sounds strange to me personally. Many times throughout my life, I have found myself in the position of being an “outlier.” It has meant that I was thinking differently or doing something differently than the majority of folks. By George, even my type 1 diagnosis as an adult again put me in the “outlier” category. My passionate conviction is that I would much rather be “different” aka “an original” than “special” in a same kind of way.
The individual that I mentioned that was “squirrelly” with her reactions to the word “different” went on to declare that special did equate to being the same as everyone else. I challenged this by suggesting that each one of us can take our different or original gifts & offer these to others in a powerful positive way. She could not quite figure me out with my “there is no box” thinking. Did I mention the word, “outlier?” Ha! Ha! These kinds of interchanges don’t really faze me much anymore. Perhaps they can at times even act as a barometer that I am on the right path for me. Maybe you can relate to this too. If there was a bubble caption above the lady’s head, she would have replaced the word “different” about me with the word “strange” it would seem. Have you had that experience? Are you okay with that? We each answer that question for ourselves.
I am not expecting the majority of people to find the taste of tea that was originally picked by monkeys to be bliss to them. We each have different tastes. As our youngest son, 6 years old says, “That’s the way God made me” when he explains why he likes something & not something else. That warms my heart to hear him say this as if it is the most natural thing in the world to say & know. We get to ask ourselves if we want to be “special” or “spectacular originals.” Do we want to have a good day, good life or a great day & life? There is a difference most of us would see right away. In my mind there is a huge difference between being different for the sake of being different & being naturally accepting of ourselves as “genuine originals.” The first I would argue as unnatural & the latter is the most natural thing in the world.
Here’s another thought. If we busy ourselves on being the opposite of different, then who is going to be left to make a beautiful difference within our world? How would you answer that question? The answer just may be the beautiful differences that have been & will continue to be made in the world will be by people with the courage & esteem to admit & embrace being different or sensational originals.
My heart’s hope for you is that you take the root part of the word “difference” & let that spirit within you knock the socks off this world in a beautiful way! Original you is something that the world has never seen or will see again. And let’s all take a page out of wee Alex’s book & declare in the spirit of being beautiful originals, “that’s the way God made me!”
Smiles, Saundie :)
May your whole week be full of original moments & next week's sharing is "On The Shoulders of Giants'...a very dear to my heart sharing of my 2 Grandpas :)