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27 June 2008 @ 08:08 am
What's Your Word?  
An interesting thing I read...

This is retold by Rev. Dr. David Bruner from a book by Elizabeth Gilbert, called Eat, Pray, Love. The author was spending a while in Rome trying to recover from a difficult divorce and thinking things through. She was having a great time, but commented to a friend of hers there that thought she loved Rome, she didn't really feel like she belonged there. It wasn't her city.

"What do you mean?" her friend asked her.

Just then a stereotypical Roman woman walks by: slender, tall, with long hair, wearing a mini skirt with a long slit in the side, expensive sunglasses the size of a sports car, with a little boutique dog on a jeweled leash.

The author points to the woman and says, "That woman can live here and I can live here, but only one of us truly belongs in Rome."

Her friend replies with, "Maybe you just don't understand Rome's word."

Word? She asks what he means. "Every city has one word that describes it and most of its inhabitants. Maybe your word and Rome's word are not the same."

So she asks the obvious question: "What's Rome's word."

"Rome's word is sex," was the answer. "In Rome, the majority of people are thinking about sex all the time. They think about it when they get up, they think about it while they're at work, and think about it when they get home."

"Really?" she asked. "Even at the Vatican?"

The Vatican, she was told isn't really part of Rome, and their word is different. "What's their word, then?"


"Are you sure their word isn't faith?"

"No, trust me, their word is power."

She wondered about it, and they started discussing what the word of various other cities would be. New York, she figured, would have to be a verb. It would probably be achieve. Los Angeles would be similar (but very different), with succeed. Just then a friend of hers from Sweden came by and got involved in the conversation, so they asked her what the word for Stockholm would be. She said conform.


This story was brought up in a sermon, with the point being obvious: So what's my word? What's the one word that sits in the background of my thoughts no matter where I am?

It took me a while to figure it out, but one day it finally hit me: improve.

If I had to pick a second one, it would be know -- but in most cases know is only there to make improve run more efficiently. (Efficient is also rattling around in there, but it's purpose in my life is really to serve improve as well.)

The real problem (if one could call it that) with improve as one's guiding principle is that it's a bit like playing wall. There's always something else to improve, and even improvements to make on the improvements. It's very safe in that the word will always be in motion, but ultimately disappointing in that it will never be fulfilled. I think I should accept applications for a new word. Improve can be retired to a grandmother cottage on the back lot of my mind, to while its days away figuring out better ways to weed a garden.


So, what's your word?
SnarkyLlamallamabitchyo on June 27th, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC)
Oh, thanks for sharing that. No idea what my word is at the moment, but it's a thought-provoking post.
Erraticaroseembolism on June 27th, 2008 04:27 pm (UTC)
That was a really thought-provoking, interesting post. I'm a bit afraid to think about what my word is...if I'm in a hopeful mood, it might be "dream".
Max Kaehn: R'lyehslothman on June 27th, 2008 04:29 pm (UTC)
Freedom. I’m happy being different. I’m working hard to get to the point that I’m free of the need for a day job.

For a second one, I’d take understand. I enjoy knowing how things work.

(Deleted comment)
wrendj on June 27th, 2008 11:25 pm (UTC)
Yet another thing
That makes me think (correction: *know*) you're awesome - your supercool philosophical side :)

My word? Probably harmony. Ironically enough ;) probably closely followed by observe/notice (nobticeve?)
I notice that I notice a lot. I also notice that I put a lot of the energy that I put into things seeking harmony, whether that is for myself in a given moment, or for all members of a group that I happen to be in at any given time.
Sandpanthersandpanther on June 28th, 2008 05:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Yet another thing
That makes me think (correction: *know*) you're awesome - your supercool philosophical side :)

Uh, you know I didn't come up with that. I just found it, yeah?

Harmony makes a lot of sense, actually, given what you had to deal with growing up.

I do the same thing on trying for group harmony. It's dug me into a lot of messes, alas. It works great as long as everyone else wants harmony, but falls apart badly once someone starts not taking the group into consideration when making their choices.
wrendj on June 29th, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC)
Re: Yet another thing
Oh, yes, I'm well aware that you found it :) What I think is so cool is that you encountered it, ran with it, and took it to a place of self-exploration and a plan for making your life more enjoyable! :) :)

Re group harmony: yeah, unless everyone/most players are in agreement it can be a waste of energy. I'm not sure whether its a good trait or not, but that is part of the reason that, once I've established that harmony will not happen, I'm more likely to absent myself, either physically or metaphorically.
Steffan Thomasrhylar on June 28th, 2008 04:16 am (UTC)
Explore (possibly tinker?) (mimsy says Experiment would be a better one for me, and I think I agree)

mimsy for herself: Hope
The Gina: pirategrlshipofools999 on July 2nd, 2008 12:06 am (UTC)
I love this. Fabo idea and thanks for sharing.

I don't know what my word would be. I feel like I need many. Maybe "movement/motion." Mental, physical, emotional.

One that pops up a lot is "distraction/escapism."

I feel like I want to ask others what my word would be.

Question for you and your "improve." What is behind the desire/need/drive to improve. The question of Why. What fuels that move to improve?

And is it just yourself? Or does it include others? Like improve a process at work, or a way groups interact, or help a friend improve their life?
etoile.noiretoilenoir959 on July 3rd, 2008 01:12 pm (UTC)
I started reading that book but never finished it - and now I will try harder to finish it.