Sometimes, if you look hard enough at a word, you can find hidden meaning between and among its letters. Don’t just break down the prefix, root, or suffix, or try to dig into its linguistic history. Instead, stare at the letters and see what comes to light. No science involved, here, just a long hard stare and an open mind. Take “generosity,” which has been on my mind for the last few days. At first glance, I see a gene, nero, and sity.
The Roman Emperor Nero apparently executed his own mother, poisoned his stepbrother, and had captured Christians burned in his garden at night for a source of light. Even if he shared the light with his friends (so they could play late night football matches), the dude’s life and legacy certainly do not illuminate the additional meaning I’m after.
Sity, I’m afraid is also a dead-end. I must admit, or confess, I hate when people purposely misspell words. To boot (continuing the Roman theme), my damn credit card company already went there with Citi, so I’m not going to take a further interest in the Sity matter.
Have I left the best for last, then? Gene. Not the Wilder or denim (if I’m being irritating) variety, but the hereditary kind. Do our genes define the make-up of our generosity? If we have it, can we pass it on (now that would be generous)? Does ancestry make some people more generous than others? Just maybe. But I’ve seen Problem Child enough to know that the connection doesn’t always ring true (and on the flipside, isn’t Darth Vadar Luke Skywalker’s father?).
Gene, Nero, and Sity: Failed experiment? I stared at a word and found out only that I rely way too much on wikipedia, hate purposely misspelled words yet use them when whenever possible, still haven’t seen Star Wars, and deserved the conservative B in my 7th grade Science class.
Perhaps I stared at the word generosity because I knew exactly what it meant, at least to me. It came to mind because I felt the other side of it and wanted to write about the way it made me feel; I needed to justify a newly acquired appreciation for the word.
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t use the ten letters to spell her name. I couldn’t find partial words (even purposely misspelled ones) to somehow indicate that the word, generosity, would mean nothing more than its definition without my sister in my life. The word is something much more than its parts, its letters, but only becuase of her unrelenting good spirit; her nature to give without pause to our family, friends, and perfect strangers. Blame it on the jet-lag, but I just couldn’t make the right words fit for purpose. Generosity is something more.
I must admit that the definition fits my sister pretty well: her habit is to give freely without an expectation of anything in return. She does it time and time again, with an abundance of energy and care that only those who have received her kindness can understand. The guests at the party she hosted, in our honor, this weekend could easily attest to that.
Generosity just may be one of the only things we can do to make our world a better place. Like the steps on a latter, one generous act leads to another and before long all of us just may end up in a higher place. I for one know I am already there, looking over the memories of an incredible weekend with family and friends, and I only hope that one day I can repay the favor.
So bloody hell, go visit her blog!