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Words That Jazz You! Unearth – Radical – Koan

Scrabble[1]For as long as I can remember, I have loved writing. When I was in grammar school I had a habit of skipping words in my sentences which made teachers have to guess what I was thinking. They would fill in the blank and while it didn’t give me an A grade, it did provide much amusement to my teachers (which I found out much later). This love of writing includes a fascination with words, their origins, and their numerous meanings.

My fascination with words was sparked earlier this year when I wrote a post on Facebook that talked about giving a course on Radical Forgiveness. A friend commented on my status with information on the origin of the word radical. He told me it comes from the Latin word radic-, radix, which means root. It reminded me of the origin of other words I have learned over the years. For example, the words “perfection” and “perfect” come from Latin expression perficio, which means to finish or bring to an end.

When I come across a word I resonate with, the word repeatedly appears. One of my favorite words is “unearthing” and I have now come across that word many times. In his book, Catfish and Mandala, Andrew X. Pham wrote, “Where is this place I am seeking? There is only ash. Secretly, I am thankful no one is witnessing this unearthing of my roots.” Now, the words radical and unearthing appear in books I read, conversations I have, and even in the news.

There are also times I have used an uncommon word and suddenly it shows up in my life. While on vacation this past Fall, I used the word “koan” in a game of Scrabble. A koan is described as an unanswerable question or statement not comprehensible by rationale understanding. It’s not a word one would use in everyday conversation unless one uses this as part of their meditation practice. When I returned from vacation, I received Byron Katie’s newsletter and the header was “Katie’s Koans.”  Two weeks later while in a bookstore, I saw a book titled, Bring Me The Rhinoceros and Other Zen Koans. I picked it up and started reading it when suddenly the man standing next to me said, “That’s my book. Would you like me to sign it for you?” Words not only appear, but so do the authors!

And just last week, while shopping at the Union Square Crafts Fair in NYC, I visited the Nicola and the Newfounderlander booth. They put together magnets and pins of words that have disappeared from usage, such as, macarism, – “to find joy in another’s happiness”; eustress, – “something that makes you both a little crazy and a little happy, but a little more happy than crazy”; and my favorite is maieutic, which means, “to give birth to ideas.”

I wonder what new words will now be more present in my life. May you unearth a radical koan that will maieutic to more in your life! What’s your favorite word? Is there a word that keeps showing up in your life? Let’s have some radical play!

Have fun! Mary Anne

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