|Too many decades ago, there was a tired old joke about how gals viewed the colour pink as the noun following many kinds of adjectives– cerise, Barbie Doll, screaming, cashmere, and even butter. And guys saw pink as pink, a fact. A lighter version of red. Yet both sexes (faked that they) knew exactly what Chartreuse was. Really? I always wondered. What does Chartreuse Mean?
I’m inclined to believe that was the beginning of the end for following strict dictionary norms and the start of subtle nuancing to fit one’s point of view.
Take the word “organized.”
The Oxford Dictionary says it is “having one’s affairs in order to deal with them efficiently. (It also talks about organized labour, but that is NOT what we’re chatting about today) To be organized means the person knows how to be organized, usually systematically, thinks about things, and arranges everything accordingly. They know where things need to go and have a plan for what they need to do.
Have you noticed there is a sliding scale for all things organized? As a matter of fact, it is no different than any other word you thought was black and white yet has somehow become very grey.
On the light side of being organized is a recent guest I interviewed. At the end of the discussion, I mentioned the three things I needed him to deliver and that I would email him the deadline for receiving them. I still hadn’t seen what I asked for nearly two weeks later. His organized self clearly did not include timeliness. Or was it that there was no plan? Neither! The email gods dumped me into SPAM. So much for a lack of organization skills.
On the heavy side of being organized sits my most difficult vacation. It was with another couple, and the incredibly helpful lady decided to do us all a favour and ‘handle’ the daily activities we would undertake. That way, we would know exactly down to the minute where we were supposed to be and never need to waste time thinking about it.
She was incredibly organized, had thought about and arranged everything, and gave us her written daily plan so we would remember. It was vacation time so I found knowing and following a posted regime excessive.
Earlier this year, my girlfriend accused me of running the house, particularly the kitchen, like a freaking corporation. “There is a time range for everything. And if something goes off kilter, you have a plan B, C, and a plan D! You just slide right into whatever needs to be done to keep to your original time range.” It was a way of operating that seemed quite strange to her and truthfully, some days I did drive her bonkers.
All this to say, absolutely nobody holds the same definition and esteem for a particular word or phrase that you do. Your truth is completely different from my truth. And my truth is but one of a million different iterations and nuances of an idea.
If we are to get to OUR truth
We need to begin with a clear understanding of what we are talking about. Never be afraid to say, “Excuse me, what exactly do you mean by that?” It will save you a ton of confusion, annoyance, and regret.
Feel up to sharing your stories about words that have been nuanced up and down the sliding scale and how YOU accommodated them? I’d love to know.