Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A way to pass the time....

In my eternal hunt for things to do while in the throes of insomnia, I recall that I used to look up words in the dictionary and write down the definition, as a way of remembering it. Sometimes I would even use it in a sentence. I have composition books filled with words and their definitions. I started this when I was a kid, but have returned to it, periodically, as an adult. There's something comforting about defining these words, some of them known before, some of them new to my brain. Maybe there has been so much in my life that I have left undefined, or rather, allowed to remain undefined, that the nature of defining something, anything, calms me down. Maybe it is the repetition, putting my finger on any page and blindly choosing a word, copying down its meaning, thinking about that word and its definition. This blocks out the rest of the chatter in my brain. This gives me a purpose, something to focus on, when I am too weary to focus on anything good. In the most painful moments of my life, or in the unsure ones, the doubtful ones, the scared ones, this has worked, like a drug to soothe me, to lull me into the pages of the dictionary, to reserve my energy for the pages I write on. Maybe this is like counting sheep?

Here are some of my favorites, culled from the pages of far too many composition books:

- Lethe: (n) (Class. Myth.) a river in Hades whose water caused forgetfulness of the past in those who drank of it; (lower case) forgetfulness; oblivion

- arboreous: (adj.) abounding in trees; wooded
- arboreal: living in or among tress
- arborescent: treelike in size and form

- ice blink: (n) a yellowish luminosity near the horizon or on the underside of a cloud, caused by the reflection of light from sea ice.

- lusus naturae: a deformed person or thing; freak (1655-65); from the Latin for "a jest of nature"

- lambkin: (n) a little lamb; a person who is exceptionally sweet, young and innocent, as a small child (1570-80)

- estivate: (v.i.) to spend the summer, at a specific place or in a certain activity; (Zool.) to pass the summer in a torpid condition
( noun- estivator)

- torpid: (adj.) inactive or sluggish; slow; dull; apathetic; lethargic; dormant, as a hibernating or estivating animal
- from the Latin torpidus- numb
(noun- torpidity, torpidness/ adverb- torpidly)

- metanoia: (n) a profound, usually spiritual, transformation; conversion- from Greek metanoia- change of mind, repentance

- panivorous: (adj.) subsisting on bread; bread-eating

I could really go on, listing these words for days. I think the general idea is clear. I highly recommend that the next time you find yourself stressed, sad, angry, lonely or unable to sleep, look up a word, write it down, lose yourself in definition, if only for a moment.

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