This May, I’m committing myself to writing student-assigned topics. Some of them might be cut-and-dried, some of them might be bears. And some of them will reveal themselves in the writing. Today is also the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life challenge. Check ’em out!
Today’s assignment: What is the most important word?
So wait. I’m a lover of words, a depender-onner of words, a clinger-with-a-white-knuckled-grasper of words, and I’m supposed to choose…ONE?
This strikes me as an assignment similar to choosing “One Little Word” for the Slice of Life challenge. I chose one word in January, and yet another in February. (I’m still living that second one, waiting patiently for a transition.)
But the most important word?
I guess I’d have to think about what’s important to me, and the first word that comes to mind is love. It’s my north star, my moral compass. I try and lead with love in everything I do. I fall short, and often. Still, I try.
And yet, I feel like “love” doesn’t always sum up what I’m getting at. It’s not just that feeling of love, it’s a desire to understand. So perhaps…compassion? That gets a little bit closer. Love is a start. Compassion requires us to meet people where they are, to show empathy, to say over and over to the people around us in ways big and small that they – that none of us – are alone.
So compassion brings me closer to that guiding principle of that most important word. Still, though, I can’t help but think it falls short. Because a “most important word” to me needs to be universal. Sure, compassion is at the heart of my relationships with other people.
But what about nature?
What about this earth?
What about our universe, and our place within it?
I need something bigger.
And where I think I’m landing is connection to the beauty and wonder and awe everywhere around me.
Compassion, I think, is built on connection. It’s an acknowledgement of beauty and awe within people. Connection is even bigger, even deeper. It extends beyond human relationships and roots me, grounds me.
Connection is spring grass on my bare feet.
It’s stroking the fur of a dog that’s finally plopped down to rest.
It’s a recipe passed down through generations.
It’s the wonder of looking into a starry sky.
It’s the feel of your father’s watch on your wrist.
It’s a text message that says nothing but a heart emoji.
It’s the power of a strong, solid hug.
It’s the smell of earth after a rain.
Will I think on this some more? Probably.
Might I further whittle this idea down to a sharper point? Stranger things have happened.
But for now, it’s where I’ve landed.
And you? What do YOU suppose is the most important word?