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.
I was just discussing The Midnight Library with friends last night. Reading your post inspired me to reserve it at my library. It will be available late May.
I love that idea of looking at the big decisions of life. While I am very happy with how my life has turned out and would not want to “disappear” my husband, children and grandchildren, I often wonder what would have happened if I had gone to Wagga Teachers College instead of Wollongong.. it was my mother who got the posting changed . I would it have not have met my husband and life would have been very different.
It’s fun to imagine without wanting to change anything. It sounds like you might get to Midnight Library before I do. Can’t wait.
This is not a word I know! Alternate realities are fun to dream of 😉
They are, aren’t they?
Another word to add to my vocabulary. For this year’s challenge, I have been writing about turning points in my young teen life — a period when we are becoming who we will eventually be as adults. It’s been fascinating to look back, and if not for A to Z when would I have time? https://mollyscanopy.com/2021/04/questioning-everything-atozchallenge/
The challenge is a perfect opportunity to carve out time to talk about something that interests you, and it’s been fun reading your reflections. I certainly enjoy the A-to-Z month for lots of reasons.
Lovely word. I have been at a few quatervois in my life. That book sounds very interesting. Adding it to my list!
Ah, I know that list, Janet. The one that grows each April exponentially. 🙂
Fascinating topic. That book sounds good. Goddess Hecate sounds like a perfect traveling companion.
I’m really looking forward to the book. And Hecate is always a welcome ally.
Decisions can be hard for me but I have a process and it’s worked well for me. I am thoughtful in my choices, yet also spontaneous. I haven’t read “The Midnight Library.” I’ve heard both positive and negative about it, so I’ll be interested in your take on it.
It can be helpful to have a process to guide you, especially one that you feel works for you. And that edge between thoughtful and spontaneous is a delightful one to dance.
I haven’t heard a single bad thing about “The Midnight Library,” but I can understand why it wouldn’t appeal to some folks just knowing its premise. It’s been forever since I’ve blogged a book review, but I may have to pick that up again. Heaven knows I read enough. 🙂
I also tend to make decisions quickly although occasionally can get caught up in analysis paralysis. I’ve never really spent time thinking about the road not chosen although love the premise of The Midnight Library: A Novel. I might have to add that to my TBR pile! Weekends In Maine
“Analysis paralysis” – what a great term. And it happens to be one of the words/phrases that looks weird to me. Double the fun!
I think we’re all growing our to-be-read lists – it’s a natural consequence of April’s goodness.
I often think about all those theories that say every choice splits the universe into different versions, so alternate realities exist where you’ve made a different choice at any given point. It’s a fascinating mind exercise, but my head starts hurting after a while… 😀
The Multicolored Diary
LOL – I know exactly what you mean – it makes my brain hurt after a while too.
I Love Hecate and the space she holds, the lamp held for us travellers limping wearily from one sortie to a brighter imagined life perhaps ..
the choices we make swallowed by the immediacy of the journey and even in those moments when you go I knew I should have gone left at that intersection our head will turn and there is an eagle circling… a pair of them and no matter the wrong turn it is now the right turn for this meeting is exactly where we needed to be . if you get my drift.
I totally get your drift Sandra, and I absolutely agree. There’s great peace in knowing that – truly KNOWING that. And I’m genuinely grateful for it.
What a wonderful world within a word. Love it.
And the : “the best takeaway for me was how valuable it was to mind-map using big paper!” Ha! HA!
Either I’m a super slow learner or too optimistic. I continue to use my notebook and then run out of space!
Adding ‘The Midnight Library’ to my list.
LOL. Let me tell you a secret, Arti – I often tip in extra fold-out pages in my journals – I don’t let mere space reservations restrict my train of thought or my arrows connecting things.
That’s a thought experiment that I quite often undertake. I find it really interesting, working out how many things would have had to be different to make me fundamentally a different person.
And Then There Were (n-1) by Sarah Pinsker is an excellent short story on the same theme.
That sounds like a very beneficial exercise. My husband and I sometimes talk about the choices we did not make in order to be with one another and I find it strengthens our bond to remember those choices. If you have not seen the movie “Sliding Doors,” you should!
Oh, that’s a lovely thing to do, Steph. I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ll make a point to – thanks for the recommendation.
This is a wonderful word. I’ve been at many a quatervois in my life. Just didn’t have the word to express it.
[My comments don’t seem to be making it to you. Fingers crossed this one does.]
Thanks for continuing to make an effort to comment, Ally – I know how frustrating it can be when such things are glitchy. I’m clueless as to why it might be happening. Sigh.
But in any case, I always get rather excited when I find a word that describes something I didn’t realize there was a word for. 🙂
Great word and the book sounds interesting!