Endings and Beginnings – An Invitation for the New Year

by Elizabeth deGraw Renna

“Endings and beginnings”

I know, I know, how cliché! The year 2012 is coming to an end and a new year is beginning. This is that time of the year when people commonly contemplate endings and beginnings. And the making of resolutions, right? But that’s not really what I want to write about today.

I have had the word “cliché” in my mind a lot lately, wanting to avoid being so in my writing. REALLY wanting to avoid it!

Cliché, a noun
From my computer-based dictionary:
1. An overused expression: a phrase or word that has lost its original effectiveness or power from overuse
2. An overused idea, activity or notion

From my handheld, pocket dictionary:
– A trite expression or idea
– Trite: lacking originality

So an expression or idea that is lacking originality may be considered a cliché. It could be said that there is nothing new in the world, there’s nothing new to be original with. But I have to wonder if originality can still exist, perhaps when someone takes a new perspective on something and shares that with others who then experience a new way of considering that something. Or when I get creative and make new connections between two things that don’t seem at first to have any relationship to each other.

My New Year’s invitation has to do with words, one of my favorite things to think about, and it has to do with moments in time. A moment: a brief interval of time or a specific point in time. My idea has to do with combining a word and a moment and seeing what happens and discovering the meaning, maybe an original meaning right then and there. Or another way to describe my idea is that it has to do with pausing, with taking a moment to consider a word and what it means to you, right in that moment. This will be an experiment, not an original idea I’m sure, but with originality and newness built in for anyone who decides to try it.

Collecting Words
The first step in this experiment is to collect words. They can be words that you like or love or they can be words that you feel neutral about or even dislike. Only you can decide what words will go into your collection. This can be a quick process of collection or you can take a week or a month – it’s your choice. And you can always add to your collection, any time. And you get to decide HOW to collect your words. Maybe you will write each word on a fortune cookie sized piece of paper and collect them all in a small jar. Maybe, like I did one time, you will use a regular piece of paper for each word and include the definitions, leaving space to write my reflections. It doesn’t matter, just collect words!

A Word a Day
The next step in the project involves taking a moment out of your day, at the beginning, middle, or end, and choosing a word from your collection at random, without peeking. Before selecting a word, you can decide what your intention is: will this be your “word for the day”, to ponder and reflect on throughout your regular routines and activities? Will you look for connections between your chosen word and the events of the day, as the day unfolds? Or will it be your word for sleeping on, to revisit in the morning in some unique way? Or you will have some other intention, some other interesting purpose for choosing a word from your own collection of words.

On a work day a few months ago, for example, I intentionally pulled out my dictionary, wrote down the word “optimism” on a small piece of scratch paper and then wrote out the definition that most closely matched what I needed, and I carried that piece of paper in my pocket all day long. It became my reminder to find the optimistic perspective in each moment of my day; it was a sort of talisman or lucky charm as well. I didn’t necessarily remember to be optimistic all day long, but it helped to have that little reminder in my pocket.

I also like to play with my dictionary as if it were an oracle, with messages for me to decipher and find meaning in. You can use your word collection in this way if you want to. I like to choose two words at random, for example, and then get creative and make meaningful connections between the two words. It’s all about what the words mean to ME, right here and now in this moment in time and experience.

No rules, no limits on this experiment. Just intrigue and curiosity and wondering…”what word will I pick and what will it end up meaning to me?”