Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with throwing open the cabinet of curiosities and wondrous things I call my brain and leading you on a tour of what actually resides in there – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
S is for..
silience – n. the kind of unnoticed excellence that carries on around you every day, unremarkably—the hidden talents of friends and coworkers, the fleeting solos of subway buskers, the slapdash eloquence of anonymous users, the unseen portfolios of aspiring artists—which would be renowned as masterpieces if only they’d been appraised by the cartel of popular taste, who assume that brilliance is a rare and precious quality, accidentally overlooking buried jewels that may not be flawless but are still somehow perfect. (Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows)
I love this word deeply, just as I love the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows deeply. If you don’t know about this gem, here is the author’s description:
”The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig. Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language—to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for.”
There are people who chafe at the idea of Koenig’s work, as though it’s some kind of abomination or gross egoism that he might deign to create new words, but truthfully that kind of attitude makes me laugh. All words were created at one time or another, and so why not celebrate someone who is examining his world and finding situations which no current word exists and creating one.
The very fact that he does this – that WE can do this – is actually one of the lovely examples for me of today’s beautiful word silience.
Don’t you feel a deep down welling of excitement considering that indeed we live in a world filled with unnoticed excellence and hidden talents, buried jewels? Just holding that makes me want all the more to hone my listening, sharpen my observational skills, exponentially expand my gratitude and appreciation, and walk differently through this world. And truly that’s what I try to do, what I’m committed to, what I encourage others to open to.
I firmly believe in these wise words from Anne Lamott:
“Astonishing material and revelation appear in our lives all the time. Let it be. Unto us, much is given. We just have to be open for business.”
It delights me that amazing things can be little and fleeting – not everything has to be a big deal CAPITAL LETTERS kind of thing. We go about our lives and there is literally magic all around us, we simply have to shift our awareness from distracted to curious.
And don’t your find it part thrilling, part amusing that folks around us have hidden talents we often don’t know about? For example, I know someone who can stand in a field of clover and within seconds unfailingly discover four-leaf clovers amidst the myriad of regular 3-leaf clovers. It’s amazing and delightful.
I can never resist Gustave Flaubert’s admonishment:
“There is not a particle of life that does not bear poetry within it.”
I know what a difference this viewpoint holds for me, and I can only imagine what a difference it would make if the majority of the collective chose it as well.
Lest you think otherwise, I’m not a Pollyanna grinning fool who doesn’t understand the world offers us a myriad of sadnesses, inequalities, and genuine challenges that require our attention, our compassion, and our fierce commitment to finding solutions that aren’t simply sleight-of-hand reconfigurations of the same paradigms.
But I do believe we absolutely need to lean into seeing the world as a place that holds wonders and hidden joys and soul-nourishing beauty that can fill the wellspring of our hearts and make this journey of ours one of greater grace and vibrancy.
And I do believe Susan Sontog was right when she said:
“Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.”
Whether we’re paying attention or not, I trust the silience of our world. I believe it’s an invitation to dig more deeply, live more passionately, and acknowledge our appreciation more widely.
What about you? Do you think our everyday world is filled with hidden gems? Do you think it’s possible to choose to be more aware? Do you have a hidden talent few people know about? Do tell – you know I love to hear.