The “UNs” of Life. A Pause for the “UN”
My least favorite words on the planet are negating words: the “uns”, the “nots”, the prefixes, suffixes, and adjectives that take a positive or neutral word and turn it into something denying what the first word (without the un or the not prefix, adjective, or suffix) is trying to say. I’ve wondered why in the world we have words that deny words in order to embrace what we mean to say.
I suppose it’s an historical thing. In studying historical literature I’ve read of people denying something in order to claim something. For example, I loathe cottage cheese, but I love yogurt. Especially found in religion (not the food, the denial to affirmation piece) I’ve always imagined it as the letting go/emptying that leads to intention/filling. In that ritualistic methodology, denial/affirmation works as a kind of purging/creating process which may or may not work for a spiritual aspirant of life.
There are some “un” words I like: understanding, universal, unicorn, united, unique, until—to name a few. “Un” is an acceptable word for the game, Scrabble. Not is a good three letter game word, and an often-heard admonition in school and parenting. “Not now”. “Not right”. Often associated with the word, “NO”, not has negative written all over it.
How we use our words is important to me, and “un” seems a very good example of a “less than” compilation of letters to express what I intend to say. When I say I am unhappy, wouldn’t a better word choice be a word that describes what I am rather than what I’m not? Am I sad, angry, despairing, forlorn, lost, searching, bored, caught in the in-between, grieving, mad, heartbroken? Un in front of a word creates a lot of wiggle room, (like the word “nice” or the word “okay”) We’ve been gifted great vocabulary, music, art, and dance to express ourselves. Let’s be intentional about saying what we mean and meaning what we say. No more ‘uns” or “nots” about it.
Until next week,