Writing Exercise: Choose the Right Name

An interesting card to pull out of the box this morning as I woke (and went to sleep, as well) trying to think of the right word to describe something. I couldn’t come up with it. I did come up with despicable, but knew that really that wasn’t the right name. And besides, one cannot even think the word “despicable” without hearing Daffy Duck say it and then… well, it doesn’t work for another reason.

There is that saying about Eskimos and the number of words they have for snow. And last week I read Sue Monk Kidd’s wonderful novel, “The Secret Life of Bees”, in which one of the characters speaks of a particular society (the exact one escaping me in this early morning hour) that has hundreds of words for love. Her point is that we are sadly limited in ours; that we use the same word to describe both our feelings for a friend’s new hairstyle as we do for the friend herself. And surely there’s a difference.

But being limited, either by my own vocabulary or the vocabulary of our culture, I was having trouble finding the right name last night. It’s interesting, too, how perplexing things can become for us when we can’t name them. Or when we can’t find the right name. Or we’re labeling them the wrong thing. The name is important. It gives clarity and meaning. It can help one feel better about the unknown, because if you can at least call something (or someone) by its name, you’re on the way to understanding it.

But I’m sitting with the not knowing right now. I’m not sure at all what to call it. I do know that Daffy’s choice is way off. The name I’m seeking has no sense of negativity or judgement. No. That’s not it. Maybe it’ll come to me in time. Or maybe not. And maybe that will be fine. I do know what it is, even without knowing its name, it just makes it harder to describe.

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