Thursday, June 7, 2012

Words, Glorious Words

This afternoon, while at a tea party with my lovely neighbors, one of them mentioned how he had purloined the word "kismet" from me.  He had had someone look at him strangely as it popped out of his mouth as easily as it has, on many occasions, popped out of mine.  And it made me think about language and words.  Specifically favorite words.

We all have our favorite words.  For some they may be more succinct and steeped in cultural symbolism.  "Fuck" or "shit", for instance.  Some people's favorite words have lost their meaning, words of a different time.  Words like "gay" that once simply meant lighthearted and cheerful, something completely different than the nebulous, socio-conscious word that it has become now.  But for me I love best the words that either sound like what they mean or what they mean is represented in how sound.  In a way I suppose a theoretical onomatopoeia but that's not a really accurate description.  The words I like best are the ones that somehow, somewhere deep inside you resonate so that they make you feel, as you are saying them, exactly what they mean. 

And, truthfully, for me there really are only two that stand out:  "Pathetic" and "Kismet." 

There's something so  joyously derisive to call someone pathetic.  Just the way it rolls off your tongue...."You are pa-THE-tic."  The emphasis behind the word matches the desired intention.  The true definition of the word could mean, "You are cheese curds," but yet somehow it would have still the same desired intention of insult, derogation and disdain.  While there are few in my world who deserve being called so or described as such, when the time comes, as inevitably it occasionally will given the feeble nature of the human race, there is such satisfaction in delivering those syllables that it's hard not to crow with glee as they are uttered.

Which leads me to my second, and perhaps optimistically more favorite word: "Kismet".  While in essence it means "fate" or "fortune" its Persian/Turkish/Arabic origin gives it just that little bit of...spice.   It's fate with a little bit of magic carpet thrown in.  Over the years, in all my adventures, I've come more to embrace, even revel in, the idea of fate.  Not predestination....I think we all choose our own lives.  But the idea that the world is yours if you're brave enough to take it. 

For example, last year in July I posted a blog post titled, "I Am For Bath."  At the end of the post talked about how funny it was that two years prior I had been driving through Bath with my sister and brother-in-law after being at my brother's wedding in Porlock, here in the U.K.  I had a lovely boyfriend in L.A. and was not planning to move anywhere at the time, but my sister, in reference to my newly acquired dual U.S./Finnish citizenship , at that moment said, "Just think...anytime you wanted to you could live here."   And in that  blog post I wrote, "How ironic that here I am, planning to move to Bath."

Two months after that post, after an exhaustive search across the entire town I carefully selected and then moved into a flat here in Bath.  A couple weeks after that my then-boyfriend pointed out that the house at the end of that street on the right, the front door that, while far away, is centered in the picture, was the house that I had just moved into.  The flat that I am writing this post from now. 

So two years and change prior to moving to Bath I took a picture of my current front door.  When I had no idea that I was even considering moving here, I took a picture in a city I didn't live in, in a country I didn't live in, of a house that I would, in future, live. 

That is kismet.  Leaps of faith and imagination topped with a sprinkling of fairy dust. 

I love the idea of being where the universe thinks you're supposed to be.  I'm not religious.  When people ask, I say I believe in Carl Sagan and The Force.  And while I abhor the idea of predestination... I dislike the idea of some supernatural being saying, "You will be here," as much as I hate the idea of any mortal telling me where and when I should be...I do love the idea that if you're smart enough, if you're willing and crazy enough, you will end up were you're "supposed" to be.  Perhaps I think in my head that there are many "supposed to be" options and that it's a matter of choosing your own ending in the Choose Your Own Adventure book of your life.  But I do like those strange coincidences the world throws at you makes you think about...just for that second longer. 

And so kismet.  While fate seems to pragmatic and fortune seems so capitalistic, I love the magic of the word.  It implies to me, as I've said, a bit of spice and sand and flying carpets.  To say, "It was fate that I moved here," or "It was fate that we met," seems so bland and pedestrian.  But kismet....kismet is the stuff of legends.  It's the stuff of heroes.  It is the stuff of magic.  

And while we know, at best, it's just a pretty illusion, deep down we all want to believe in magic.