A Moment with Many Definitions

by Elizabeth deGraw Renna

WARNING: This Blog essay probably contains too many definitions of words. This could seem very boring. But there’s meaning in the meanings; please bear with me.

I recently re-read a Journal entry from April 11 in which the word “inundate” sparked a reflection and a safari of sorts through the dictionary.

Safari, noun

– An overland expedition, especially in East Africa [From the Arabic word for journey]

Expedition, noun

– A journey undertaken with a definite objective

– Speed in performance (hmmm….)

Expedite, verb

– To speed the progress of; facilitate

– To perform quickly [From the Latin word expedire, make ready]

Expeditious, adjective

-Acting or done with speed and efficiency

[A fun word to say out loud, actually.]

On April 11 I was still experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed by my many responsibilities and perceived obligations. The word “inundated” came to mind.

Inundate, verb (Inundation, noun)

– To cover or overwhelm with or as if with a flood

I didn’t realize the direct connection to water with the word “inundate”. When I feel inundated and overwhelmed by the experience of life in the current moment, with my sometimes intense awareness of all the things I need to do, I think the image of waves can actually help me. I can take some deep breaths, acknowledge the flooding feeling, the experience of feeling overwhelmed, but keep breathing and imagining the wave subsiding again. The rhythmic, soothing (and yes, powerful) nature of waves can be tapped into and used as a positive image. I can use the power and momentum of waves to propel me forward. I can use the rhythmic nature of waves to soothe and relax me. The feeling of being inundated can ebb, flow back, ease, moving from a crashing sound to the quiet of the flowing-back moment.

Overwhelm, verb

– To submerge; engulf

– To defeat completely

– To turn over; upset

Engulf, verb

– To swallow up or overwhelm by or as if by overflowing and enclosing

As I sat with my smallish pocket dictionary (“Over 70,000 entries“!), finishing my notes for the word engulf, I noticed the words on either side of that word, all verbs.

                                           Engross                                         Engulf                                 Enhance

Engross, verb

– To occupy exclusively; absorb Synonym: monopolize

Enhance, verb

– To make greater, as in value, reputation, or usefulness

[From the Latin inaltare, heighten]

When I am feeling overwhelmed or engulfed by all the perceived things I have or need to do, it always helps if I focus exclusively on just one thing at a time. “Uni-tasking”, becoming engrossed and absorbed in just one task at a time will help quell the feeling of being flooded to overflowing. This will most certainly enhance my overall sense of well-being, of calm and I will be able to handle my experience that much more effectively. AND expeditiously!