Words are harbingers, messengers of our time. They come into the world one way, and as the world turns, they evolve. It strikes me that this year of challenge and change makes for the perfect moment to renew our words. Agree? Then come aboard! Each week on A Word, Please, we’ll be turning a new word around—how it began, how we’re using it now. Some weeks I’ll invite guests, or I’ll read a passage from something I’m working on, or a poem or page that I think will inspire us.
All you word lovers: please join me! Let’s look at the world one word at a time.
the green of VERT
the WHELM in OVERWHELM
A Passage from Tolstoy's ANNA KARENINA
The opening lines of SULA
DICHOTOMY vs PARADOX
The opening lines of THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD
The opening lines of Louise Erdrich's LOVE MEDICINE
The opening lines of Virginia Woolf's A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN
DEADLINE with Sarah Balakrishnan
The opening lines of Toni Morrison's BELOVED
“IN THESE YEARS . . .”
March 2, 2022: A TOAST TO UKRAINE
SALT AND SALARY
FOOL, FOLLY, FOOLISHNESS
SMILE with Sarah Ruhl
ESCAPE with Sarah Lao
ADULT with Julie Lythcott-Haims
VOICE with Kathe Mazur
APPROPRIATE with Paisley Rekdal
CHOCOLATE with Greg D'Alesandre
SONG with Maggie Wheeler
• to perform an action especially as a proof of courage
• to confront boldly: DEFY
• to be adventurous, audaciously bold
• to be brave enough
Dare As a Work in Progress
1. In this moment, this time dare to say I don’t know.
2. Dare to ask with equal vigor: What is the opposite point of view?
3. Dare to pass by the quick fix in favor of something worth waiting for.
4. Dare to trust life.
5. Dare to preface your opinions with the phrase I believe.
6. Dare to be a romantic in a cynical time.
7. Dare to think of your body as a glass, with everything you pour into it visible, including harsh judgments.
8. Dare to consider your unadorned face and body with tenderness.
9. Dare to be curious, even when the currency champions those who appear cocksure. Look at that word and ask with your curious self: What’s so great about being cocksure?
10. Dare to talk from the heart, though others may judge you with closed minds and sharp tongues.
11. Dare to spend days alone, without your laptop or phone. Dare to know the inside of your mind when it’s quiet. Blank.
12. Dare to question your assumptions.
13. Dare to appear foolish, unrehearsed, spinach in your teeth, chocolate on your face, messy . . . authentic.
14. Dare to be truly, forever, all in with someone or something.
15. Dare to care so deeply about that person or cause or project that you become a wool-less lamb in an open field during a thunderstorm.
16. Dare to be the farmer who fetches that lamb and sees that she is warm, dry, fed—then send her on her way with a blessing.
17. Dare to call poison by its real name—envy, bigotry, small-mindedness, misogyny, shame, fear—especially when it lives inside you.
18. Dare to not broadcast slights or complaints.
19. Dare to honor your elders.
20. Dare to approach decisions with the question, What would love say?
21. Dare to celebrate a stranger—to walk them across the river, give them a meal or shelter or money or praise or your undivided attention—especially when it doesn’t serve you.
22. Dare to practice gratitude. First thing in the morning, last thing at night. Think of three things for which you’re grateful. It won’t turn you into a puffball, and it will set you up for the next day of daring.
GAR OO CHUGAR
VOTE/VOW with Bridget Quinn