"I imagine a man must have a good deal of vanity who believes that all the doctrines he holds are true, and all he rejects are false." -- Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, February 14, 2021

What's in a Word?

      Some people find inspiration in choosing a "word of the year" to guide them or focus their energies. I came across a word this past week that provides no guide, but does seem to describe our current reality. The word is acedia.

     Acedia means "laziness, or lack of interest or caring." The word -- and the emotion -- goes back as far as ancient Greece. Later, in the 5th century, the monk John Cassia considered acedia a deadly sin. He described how the feeling could overwhelm a colleague who "cannot stay still in his cell, or devote any effort to reading." He feels "such body listlessness and yawning hunger as though he were worn by a long journey or a prolonged fast . . . Next he glances about and sighs that no one is coming to see him. Constantly in and out of his cell, he looks at the sun as if it were too slow in setting."

     I don't know about you, but lately I've been feeling just like the monk in his cell.

     Yet our Baby Boomer bloggers resist the temptation toward the word acedia. For Carol Cassara her word instead might be within. In this week's post Looking Within she focuses on how we allow life events to touch and change us, and urges us to "inhabit our truth" and stand firm in what's important to us.

     Laurie Stone of Musing, Rants & Scribbles might choose the word mirage. "It always starts innocently," she says. "I'm minding my own business on Facebook when it appears on the sidebar. Like a mirage in the desert the object shimmers on the edges, enticing and beckoning. That shirt I pined for last month, but never found, is there in the perfect fit and color." She doesn't need it. But her hand hovers over the mirage . . . and so in 5 Ways Amazon Doesn't Play Fair she once again realizes that "they know what I want before I do." 

     Rebecca Olkowski would probably turn to hippie as her word. She asks:  What were you doing during the Summer of Love? One of her friends, who was living in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury at the time, recently published a memoir about her experiences. Check out the book Natural Born Guilt to follow her tragicomedy from happy to hippie to hooked.

     Rita R. Robison, consumer and personal finance journalist, picks scam. She reminds us that, pandemic or no, we must watch out for scammers who want to steal our identity by posing as a government official or pulling an online shopping trick. In FTC's Fraud List for 2020 she reveals that some 2.2 million people reported scams to the Federal Trade Commission. She lists the biggest fraud categories and offers a website where you can report suspicious activity.

     For Jennifer of Untold and Begin the word is art. Last week she enjoyed an immersive Van Gogh experience at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL. And now in her post How Does One Become a Painter? she offers a revelation about how we all can become better at our craft.

     Finally, for Meryl Baer the word is surely shot. She says it's hard to believe that we are closing in on one year of Covid-19 restrictions. In Scenes from a Pandemic-Restricted Life she offers a few glimpses of how the pandemic has altered our lives . . . including the highlight of her week which involved an hour's drive to a fire-training center to get a shot in her arm.

     And so as we line up for our vaccinations, and the world slowly opens up, perhaps we can all think of a more hopeful, more positive word than acedia for 2021.


ApacheDug said...

I look forward to checking the rest of these out, I just now finished the one about Amazon not playing fair. For the record, I'm as guilty as anyone else when it comes to shopping there but I can proudly say in all my purchases on Amazon, I have never--not a single time--returned anything.

(Though I did get a refund once for a wall clock they sent me with a shattered glass face. I absolutely refused to pick out the broken glass to return it, they relented after I emailed them a couple photos.)

Carol Cassara said...

I love this week's compilation! But then again, I love them all. The human condition.

Meryl Baer said...

Learn something every day! Never heard the word acedia before, but it does describe today's covid malaise. Great post.

Rita said...

Great job, as usual. You are so great with words, and here, words are the theme of the article.

Arkansas Patti said...

Interesting post per usual Tom. Evidently acedia doesn't prevent writing a good post. I might suffer a bit from it but mostly I cling to "adapt" as my word.

Laurie Stone said...

Tom, The word acedia seems very apt right now, considering we're heading into the second year of Covid. Still, there are hopeful signs.

Wisewebwoman said...

I read that word acedia somewhere else.

Once I've tossed off mine, I will explore your links which look fascinating.


Pat S. said...

The monk in the cell didn't quite fit your initial definition of acedia. He seemed to show restlessness, dissatisfaction along with some malaise & a lack of focus. Definitely an interesting mix of behaviors. Maybe Covid-19 has put many of us in a kind of monastery. Hoping that widespread vaccinations will improve the mood of our nation (and the world) and allow us to resume our lives in satisfying ways.

Jennifer (UnfoldAndBegin) said...

Thanks for the interesting line-up as always. And you know how I like to learn new things and today I did...acedia.

gigi-hawaii said...

Acedia is what I feel right now.

Susan Zarzycki said...

I can identify with the new word I learned today. Thanks for the great links!

Kay said...

I'm certainly keeping my fingers crossed, Tom.

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