Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’m sharing my thoughts and reflections on a lexicon (vocabulary specific to a certain subject) of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words. Ludic is defined as “playful, in an aimless way” and that’s my plan for approaching this challenge – keeping my feet on the joy trail and meandering wherever the daily word takes me.
Q is for…
quatervois – a crossroad; a critical turning point in your life at which you must make a choice. This archaic word is French and made it to England in the early 1600s.
I’ve been thinking about choices lately as I recently had to make a significant one, and then had a deep and lovely conversation with friends about their own processes. To be honest I don’t often struggle with decisions and I’m grateful for that. I’m really committed to listening to my heart and trusting myself, but we’re all incredibly different and our ways of navigating are unique.
Back in grad school, I remember studying psychiatrist William Glasser’s Choice Theory, which posits that all humans have five basic needs (survival, freedom, fun, power, and love/belonging) that we attempt to satisfy through our behavioral choices. The exercise was to map (on huge sheets of flip-chart paper) major decisions and see if we could tease out what need we were trying to satisfy. I found it interesting, but honestly, the best takeaway for me was how valuable it was to mind-map using big paper. Years later I did a large map of major decision points in my life, sort of a general mapping of my life up to that point. But at every decision point, I also branched off to see if I had chosen the other option what that might have looked like. It was a rather fascinating act of imagining. I did it not because I was second-guessing my choices, but because of a discussion I heard in a science-fiction bookstore about creating a character based on all the not-chosen choices in one’s life. It was definitely entertaining, and it exponentially expanded my already HUGE respect for authors and world-builders. Although I love complexity and nuance, I think at the heart of things I’m a very simple person. It’s as though as I strip myself down to distilled essentials, I can allow the world to become more complex.
As I write this, my mind keeps turning to a book I haven’t yet read, but am looking forward to. I have it on library hold but it’s likely a couple months away. It’s Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library: A Novel. Here’s the blurb: “Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?” How perfect is that for my quatervois pondering?
When I think of crossroads, those points of choice, I always think about the goddess Hecate. Most often considered a triformis goddess, in her most ancient iterations she was associated with the mysteries of life, death, and rebirth. She was revered at crossroads, especially where three roads met and she was considered a liminal goddess, able to cross between worlds, seeing the past, present, and future. Although you must choose your own path, she presents a torch to illuminate the dark to help you judge yourself. She is often seen carrying a key to open the way, especially to the mysteries; a snake of regeneration; and a blade of midwifery.
Another symbol respresenting crossroads for me is the stone Chiastolite. Here’s a photo of a beautiful necklace created by Mia Illuzia of Spirit Carrier and a single stone. The stone I keep on my dreaming altar, holding the liminal space between dreaming and waking; this world and others.
Of all of the things to be said about decisions and being at crossroads, I think beloved Rumi offers the wisest advice.
What do you think? Ever consider the critical turning points in your life? Have you read The Midnight Library: A Novel? Wonder about your selves in alternate realities who spun off to live those lives you chose against? Do tell – you know I love to hear.