What’s in a word?
Recently, I revisited a quote from the movie Eat, Pray Love that made me stop and take the time to really reflect. In the movie, Julia Roberts, who plays Liz Gilbert (author of the book upon whom this story is truly based), struggles to find a word that represents who she is. The friends she’s made in Italy try to find words to represents themselves and the cities they’ve visited – London is “stuffy”, New York is “ambition” or “soot”, and Rome is “sex” – but all Liz can think of to define herself, is “writer”, which her companions point out, isn’t who she is, but what she does for a living. At the end of the book, after a satisfying journey of learning to let go of a nasty divorce and love herself again so she can start to love somebody else, Liz decides that her word is, in fact Attraversiamo, an Italian word meaning let’s cross over.
Gilbert’s journey throughout the movie helps bring her back to who she used to be by helping her to cross over to her old self; someone who was happy; someone who had the capability to give love and receive it; someone inspired who had the ability to inspire others, through actions and words – in her case, words written in the form of a book. The word Attraversiamo for Gilbert, was the perfect reflection of who she was at that particular moment in time.
Eureka! Discovering and re-discovering my word
Gilbert’s search for her word also made me think of my own journey of self-discovery. I’ve come to the conclusion that one thing is for sure; depending on where we are in are life, the words we use to describe ourselves can and will change but there is always one word that perfectly describes us, inclusive of our best traits as well as our faults.
At various points in my life, I’ve been different to different people, even to myself. One nasty break-up even caused me to lose such track of myself that I ventured forth into the brave new world of travel to rediscover the me I couldn’t find anymore. I took off with a one way ticket to find out what made me laugh, what kind of person I was to strangers, who was drawn to me, and how I could fare in a situation where I was anything but comfortable… and you know what? I fared just fine. And consequently, I discovered that the me I’d lost sight of, the me I longed to rediscover and now (in a place where I’m the happiest I’ve ever been) cherish every single day – was and remains “bubbly”.
A funny choice you say? Well, I didn’t dare say it without taking a consensus first, and funnily enough, that’s the popular choice. In my case, the word “bubbly”, encompasses all things from energetic and positive by nature, to up and down and sometimes hard to keep up with. These are my flaws – I can be as high as a kite and then bawl like a five year old, but guaranteed an hour later I’m back on my feet and appreciating the kind smile of a stranger walking by. I can be too “bubbly” – just ask my brother who has to take time-outs from conversation with me as I run off in three directions without stopping for breath – I admit, I can be tiring. But, that’s who I am! It’s how I cope with things that go wrong, how I overcome obstacles and how I create the environment that I want to live in. My “bubbly” nature can drive my husband insane as I plan for our next big trip, while arranging fifty smaller ones to pass the time (I also happen to be a stereotypical Sagittarian with the itchiest of itchy feet). I find it hard to live in the present – at which point I’m sure I become a bubble my husband would like to pop, just to enjoy some stability for a few days on end. But this part of me also pushes me to go to great lengths to make people feel better when they’re kind of blue, to end a fight with a happy dance moments after finding a resolution, and to encourage strangers as we all make our way towards the finish line of the 5km.
Take the time to discover your word
While I’m sure my secondary words will continue to change – after all, I have yet to discover words like motherhood, novelist (perhaps?) and retirement among a plethora of words I can’t anticipate – I’m so thankful I’ve experienced losing mine in order to realize exactly how valuable it really is. During the time when I wasn’t feeling my “bubbly” self, I know that something needed fixing and something needed to change in order to restore the balance that makes me who I am. I wasn’t laughing, and I certainly wasn’t seeing life through rose coloured glasses. Nowadays, at peace with and knowing who I am, I wake up every day feeling so lucky that I’m surrounded by people who love me for me, for my very flawed bubbly self.
And so, I challenge you, all of you, to find your word. Some of you will, and some of you won’t, but once you do, you’ll realize that you’ve found you didn’t know you were looking for in the first place. Do you have a word? I’d love to hear about it.