Ten great words:
1. Generosity. I was inspired by Doc’s post (here) to make this week’s yoga mediation about generosity. I’ve been thinking about the idea that energy can neither be created nor destroyed (it IS energy, right? Not ‘matter’? Or is it both? I don’t know…), and I love the idea, posted on a plaque at my desk, that “the more we share, the more we have.” I’ve been working on cultivating an attitude of generosity lately.
2. Ambivalent. It doesn’t go along with the generosity theme at all, but it’s a great word. I was talking to some students the other day about what the opposite of “love” is, and they all said “Pffft! That’s easy, Mrs. Chili; it’s hate.” Um, no – it’s not. The opposite of love is no emotion at all, and I love this word that expresses the idea of having no set opinion one way or the other. I don’t think of it in terms of being the opposite of love, though – at least, not often – but more in terms of being open to possibilities.
3. Reconciliation. I’ve been inviting a gentleman who grew up in Nazi Germany into my class lately (he made his first visit on Friday; he’s coming back today because the kids needed more!) and the idea of reconciliation is huge in his paradigm. It’s about coming to a common agreement without necessarily giving up who one is or what one believes in order to get there.
4. Wisdom. I love the feeling of calm that I get from this word. Someone who is wise is content in their knowledge; they don’t need to shout or do violence to get their point across because a wise person understands that people will only take up knowledge when they’re ready (and willing) to do so. A wise person is willing to lead the proverbial horse, but is not personally invested in whether or not she drinks – the horse’s willingness to drink or not is in no way the leader’s responsibility, and truly wise people understand that.
5. Wonder. I’m hoping to have a plaque made that says “wisdom begins in wonder” to hang in my classroom. I think, more than anything else, that my professional attitude is shaped by a desire to know, to inquire, to investigate – to engage in that behavior of wonder that motivates me to want to know more. My dearest wish is that I inspire my students to that same kind of curiosity.
6. Compassion. This, above all others, may be my favorite word. I spend a lot of time trying to cultivate my own compassion, and I try to let compassion be the guiding precept of my life.
7. Fortitude. Along with this goes “endurance,” and they are words that convey to me a sense of strength and steadfastness – two things that I admire in others and work to develop in myself. I don’t like giving up, though I hope that I’m wise enough to know when it’s time to let go of something. I’m still working on that.
8. Brevity. I came across this word a few weeks ago when I was subbing a class for which Hamlet was the central activity (just as an aside, I’ll be starting Hamlet with my III/IV kids in a little bit – I can’t wait! Watch this space). Given the context, it was a bitterly ironic word (Polonius does not embody the concept), but I love the specificity of it – and I admire (and aspire to be) someone who can say exactly what they mean with just enough of the right words to say it.
9. Passion. I love the energy of this word, though I do think that too many people use being passionate about something as an excuse for bad behavior. Passion is a wonderful motivating factor (if, of course, one’s passion is not blind and/or misplaced).
10. Contentment. Sheryl Crowe’s got a song lyric that goes something like “it’s not having what you want/ it’s wanting what you’ve got.” I get to live in that place all the time, and I am grateful for it every single day.