Five Words to Keep in Your Vocabulary Even When You're Facing Unknowns
The five words that I'm going to be sharing with you today are words that I have shared on social media. These are all words that you already know. I've written a short poem, as a definition for each word, in hopes to perhaps see this word in a new way and perhaps create a reason to keep this word in your vocabulary, even when you're facing unknowns.
I know for me, when it comes to waiting and seasons of questioning, it can be very hard and oftentimes feel limiting in terms of how I think about things or how I think about the future. This is why I think words on their own are so powerful. I would just like to invite you to listen to this word, and listen to my poetic definition, but also come up with your own definition of what this word means to you.
The first word to keep in your vocabulary is rest.
Rest: the act of ceasing to work in order to be refreshed, and recover your strength, even when you don't think you're worthy of it.
I added that second part: “even when you don't think you're worthy of it”, because I think that oftentimes, intellectually, we know that we need rest. However, intellectually, we know that we have things to do. We know that there is a to-do list that still has unmarked checks. There are still people who need things from us, people relying on us. And as a result, it can feel close to impossible sometimes to feel like we are worthy of rest. So just keep that in your mind as you are facing any unknown. It's okay. It's still okay to take that time to rest.
Word number two is play.
Play: to engage in an activity just for the fun of it, even when there's no definitive factor of why it's important, or how it's productive.
We don't have to have a “why”. We are allowed to play just because. We're allowed to color or go for a walk in nature, that's not an exercise walk. We can just walk around and explore. We can take photographs that we don't plan on sharing on social media (or with anyone at all) just for the fun of exploring what our camera or a phone's camera is capable of. Play is powerful. In times of uncertainty, it can seem as if there's no time for play. However, when we take those moments, we are nurturing that childhood part of ourselves that still wants to be human and be present, despite all that is unknown. So give yourself that permission to play.
The third word is curiosity.
Curiosity: a stirring desire to look around right where you are. To learn something new, even when there are unknowns ahead of you.
I really wanted to put this emphasis on looking around, because when you're facing unknowns, it's kind of hard to look ahead. However, what if you decided to look around? What if even if you were in a place where you felt like you were in stagnant waters - you're not moving as fast as you want to - you decided to see what is in your existing environment that you haven't taken the time to get to know? Who is in your existing environment that you haven't taken the time to know?
You know, sometimes when we see people walking around in the background, just throughout our day, it can be easy to think of them as somewhat side characters in our story. But we're all in this together. No one is a side character. Everyone, every single person, whether they're driving in a car by you on the street, or they're passing by you walking - every single person is filled with depth, and has stories upon stories layered and inner-woven throughout their lives.
So with every interaction, no matter how mundane they seem, remain open, remain curious, maintain a posture of looking around, listening in to whatever and whoever is around you. You never know what you might find, even as you wait.
The fourth word, and one of my favorite words, is dream.
Dream: a cherished thought of something you would like to happen, that even when it seems too childish or impractical, you can still recognize the act of dreaming itself as something that keeps hope stirring within you.
This is the only word on this list of five words that is not focused on the present moment. And it's about looking ahead. And of course, we're dreaming in the present moment, but dreaming of the future, dreaming of what could be, and not forcing yourself to be practical about it. The older we get, the more we put limits on ourselves as to what we think is actually possible. The thing about dreaming is that you don't have to put those limits on yourself. When it comes to the dreams that we have at night, if you remember any of your dreams, you can probably testify to the fact that unrealistic things happen that you never would have thought possible. And while some of these dreams may seem pointless, or without any type of identifiable meaning, what they do show us is that our imagination is active. We're allowed to use that imagination, even when it comes to how we think about the future and how we dream when we're awake. So give yourself permission to dream without worrying about what it's going to turn into. Give yourself permission to dream about the best case scenario, not only for yourself, but for those around you, for your community and for the world. Because maybe, tucked within your wildest dreams, is practicality: a way that that dream could actually come to life. So give yourself that permission to dream. Let it be a symbol of hope that continues to stir within you.
The final word is grace.
Grace is unmerited favor, giving you permission to see who you are beyond what you do. Grace is the sun that rises yet another day, even as you wait for other things to fall in place.
Make grace keep you here in the present moment. Make grace keep you awake to the possibility of what could be, even when you don't feel like you're doing anything. Even when you don't feel like you're where you're supposed to be. Perhaps you as a human being - a living breathing soul - was meant to be, even when you're not working, even when you can't answer that question, “So what do you do?” Or, “what are you up to?” Even when you just want to leave silence on the end of that question mark, you still matter, you still matter here. The sun is still rising each day, even while the questions remain, and that's grace.
I would like to leave you with a question. You can either journal about this or just carry it with you throughout the day: Which of these five words - rest, play, curiosity, dream, and grace - stands out to you the most and why?- MHN