From the archives …
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I am a lover of words. I have been brought up learning how to use words as they are meant to be used.
I am a respecter of words. I’ve used words to help people in difficult times. And yes, I will confess to have used words to hurt people in other difficult times. But I know how powerful words are – and they should be.
Each year Lake Superior State University publishes a List of Banished Words. To make this list, a word must be so over used as to be abused and therefore, rendered useless. The number one word on 2012’s list is “amazing”. Check out the full list here: http://www.lssu.edu/banished/current.php.
At the risk of being labeled a word snob, I’m as of now nominating AWESOME to make next years list of being kicked off the vocabulary island – or maybe banned to one.
This word can be traced back to the 1600’s when the initial meaning was “profoundly reverential”, from awe + some. By the 1670’s the word came to mean “inspiring awe”. And what are the roots of awe? Back to Old Testament times meaning an “overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like: in awe of God;”.
One of the long days that I spent in the hospital a nurse’s aid came into clean my room. I was feeling terrible, but according to her I looked awesome. We were in the middle of the coldest winter in west-central Florida’s history, but the weather was awesome. She saw a movie the night before that was awesome and she was planning an awesome lunch of left over Chinese food from her date the night before, which, of course, was awesome.
Her sunny outlook was, I guess, important to her job and to the people that she helped care for. But she is an example of how that word awesome has, I think, come to be really overused and misunderstood. We get all excited about things, events, people, and places and in that excitement, just blurt out “That’s awesome!” Anything anyone likes or thinks is cool can be labeled as awesome. And in doing so, we lose the power that the word awesome means to convey.
So in an effort to save the word awesome, consider the following. I know the power of the word awesome.
A vital organ that is failing, dying. The person with that organ, is going to die. But there are people who have the knowledge, skill, and dedication to remove the failing organ from a body that cannot live with out it, place a new, healthy organ in place, and re – connect the complex and minsicule veins, vessels, and tissues and leave behind a healthy organ and a second chance at life – NOW THAT’S AWESOME!
A family has just been told that someone that they love, someone who has been a part of their lives, cannot survive the illness or injury that has occured. This family has never known such grief. A son, daughter, husband, wife, best friend is being taken from them. Then somehow, they reach out of the depth of the grief of their loss, and, thinking of someone they don’t even know, ask: “Can her organs be given to someone to help them?” NOW THAT’S AWESOME!
A man, mid-fifties and in truly his prime suddenly, unexpectedly, shockingly gets very, very sick. The job that he loved more than anyone probably should love a job was taken from him. His illness progresses. He is spending more time in the hospital than at home. He, who once was stocky and loved to play golf and was sometimes annoyingly indepedent, suddenly is a weak shadow of what he remembered. He came to be totally dependent on others. He didn’t care that he had strangers cleaning up his frequent “accidents”. He was stripped of all dignity and pride, but he no longer cared. Then they tell him that there is a donated organ for him. With some fear, and mostly resignation, yet with a lot of faith, he allows himself to be wheeled into an operating room awake knowing full well those could be the last visions and interactions in his life. He wakes up to find himself still alive. Those that make his life loved are surrounding him. And not six months later, not a month later, not even a full week, but 6 days after what his doctor said was “the biggest operation we can do on someone” that man left the hospital and has since come to know and appreciate what health, life, and love are all about – NOW THAT’S AWESOME!
To all the people, professions, friends, strangers, that made this transformation possible: there are no words to express my thanks, except to say, NOW YOU ARE AWESOME!