“We’ve been pretty blessed.”
On the way home from a writer’s workshop in New York, the first leg of my trip found me sitting next to a couple with a small baby. I started talking to them, mostly because I figured that when the baby started crying (which they almost always do on plane flights), having a face and a story to the crying would help alleviate my impatience. So I struck up a conversation with the couple, who looked to be in their mid to late twenties and had the exhausted yet happy look of new parents. I asked if their daughter was sleeping through the night yet.
The wife’s reply was “We’ve been pretty blessed – she’s been sleeping well from the first month.”
The use of the word “blessed” stuck in my mind. It’s not a word I use much anymore, although at one time it was. Time was when I would talk about being “blessed”, as though whatever happened in my life was a gift from someone. Nowadays, my word choice includes terms like “fortunate” and “lucky.” A small change – and not a very noticeable one – but still a change. As my life has slanted towards secularism, I find myself using fewer and fewer of the terms associated with religious belief. Perhaps this change in vocabulary reflects a change in thinking or perhaps it just reflects the fact that I don’t spend much time in church anymore.
However, all of this got me thinking about some of the smaller marks that we carry with us. In this case, the mark of language: the words that we use every day that often give indicators as to who we are and what we do. For example – I have a background in developmental biology. As a result, many of my word choices are a reflection of this training. When I talk about terms like fate, lineage, and specification, I am thinking of some very specific processes that happen during the development of an organism, rather than some of the broader definitions used by society at large.
Has anyone else noticed a shift in language as your life – and environment – has changed?