Sunday, September 25, 2016
Word of the Day
Photo from Audubon.com
This morning, the Word of the Day on my Dictionary.com app buzzed its way into my life. Just a tiny vibration and an almost inaudible purr. But a word that sent my muse scurrying in demanding that I compose a few words.
My, but this word is unforgivably coincidental, if I believed in coincidences, seeing that I'm sitting on a screened porch, listening to small waves breaking, breathing salty air, and watching seagulls line up for seafood brunch on the unapologetic white sands of the Gulf of Mexico.
The word? Albatross. Al-ba-tross. And though I'm not sure of the shared DNA between said albatrosses and said gulls, they look pretty similar to a landlocked bloke such as I.
But as you know, we don't really conjure up the bird when we think of albatross. Unless we picture it hanging around our straining necks.
Dictionary.com tells us that an albatross is a noun that is "a seemingly inescapable moral or emotional burden, as of guilt or responsibility" or "something burdensome that impedes action or progress."
You know, we're in a day where "no news is good news" rings pretty darn true. We have seemingly unbridled global terrorism. We have civilians shooting civilians, police shooting civilians, and civilians shooting police. We have a partisan divide unequalled in my memory and this partisan divide appears to be driven by mutual disgust and distaste for the "other party" candidate. We are divided on so many fronts that we're going to have to invent new fronts upon which to be divided. We have what is, in my opinion, a rip in our societal seam that threatens the entire garment of the republic. We have hate, fear, and anger wrapped in one great big ball.
We have, folks, around our collective necks, an albatross of pterodactyl proportions.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge writes in "The Ancient Mariner:"
Ah ! well a-day ! what evil looks
Had I from old and young !
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.
"Instead of the cross...". Things that make you go, "Hmmmm."
I'm not ashamed of my fellow Americans. That would be prideful. It's the whole "he who is without sin" thing. If I am ashamed of my fellow Americans, that would mean that I stand in judgment of them. And God help us if someone of my ilk were to stand in judgement of anyone or anything. I have no business even picking up a stone, much less casting it.
What am I? What are my feelings? What are my emotions?
Well, I suppose that there is an exact word I could use, but I'm not sure that I can find exactness here. I'm alarmed. I'm disappointed. I'm concerned. And I'm a little scared. Wait, strike that. I'm too old to be scared. I think a better word might be "anxious."
I don't like posing issues and concerns without remedies. But I have none. In today's familiar parlance, that's above my pay grade. In fact, I have to question whether there is a solution. I suppose that all problems, simply by being problems, have solutions, so my hope is that there is a person or people out there who can put us right again. I'm thinking that whatever the solution is, it's going to take time. Lots of time. A couple of generations maybe.
I think of the seemingly endless plight of the Israelites. About as soon as they had things figured out and found their way back to God, something was already percolating to shove them back into the same predicament they had just gotten out of. Such a cyclical thing. And, who knows? Maybe our current societal ills have occurred before - perhaps many times before - and I'm just not a studious enough historian to know that.
What I do know is that I will pray everyday for America. I will pray that we will mend our rips, sew up old wounds, stabilize the foundation this country was built on, dispel negative rhetoric and angry words, and find a way to symbolically join hands in the spirit of unity.
I will pray that we will find a way to remove that gargantuan albatross necklace from our stiff necks and walk unimpeded, unprejudiced, and with pride.
In another coincidental non-coincident, yesterday's Word of the Day was cackleberry. Not nearly as compelling and thought-provoking as albatross, but certainly an honored member of our lexicon. And it begs the question: what came first, the albatross or the cackleberry.
Come on. Look it up if you need to. I did. And, you know, just maybe you'll have something to smile about today. And that, just maybe, might be the start of something good. Something really good.