I come from the everybody-gets-a-trophy generation. Somewhere deep in the bowels of my parents’ attic is a box containing a handful of softball and basketball trophies I “earned” by playing the minimum requirement of innings or minutes or however they measured such things to ensure every kid like me got to participate. Eventually, during middle school sports became less of a social activity and began to require actual skill. At which point, I was out. I hung up my barely scuffed sneakers and refocused my efforts on my true sport: school.
Nowadays they have cutesy names like “mathlete” for what I was. And wouldn’t ya know it, they have trophies for that, too! There in the attic, in the box beside the pitiful participation trophies, there are two marble pedestals that I actually WON. Two golden bumblebees, each wearing a mortarboard, googly glasses and a look of authority. You see, I’m a word nerd from way back. Before I was cringing at the lack of punctuation in your text messages and making snarky comments about misspellings on restaurant menus, I was flat out OWNING the elementary school Spelling Bee circuit. I sliced and diced the classroom-level competition then went on to win the two aforementioned bumblebee trophies for being the biggest word nerd in the entire school. Twice.
The softball trophies will likely never again see the light of day, but someday I will have a comfy yet sophisticated home office and I will (have my dad) build a special shelf so those two little golden spelling bees can be appreciated and revered as the beacons of word nerdiness they are.
Bet you didn’t know I was a word nerd with actual credentials.
One of the
quirks idiosyncrasies endearing qualities (perks?) of my word nerdiness is the way I can’t get enough of quotes. I deeply appreciate how powerful words can be and how meaningful it is when someone else is able to articulate that thing that’s been occupying your mind and you just can’t seem to express it in actual, pesky words. Do you ever read a quote by someone famous and eloquent and poignant and think, “yes! That!”? Yeah. Me, too.
It’s one of my favorite things to get lost in on Pinterest. I have an entire board filled with words. Motivating words. Inspiring words. Funny words. Words for which I wish I could take credit.
I write down funny or interesting things people say, I listen to music for the poetry in the lyrics, and – incidentally – I actually did win a few more trophies in my day, but only after finding my way to high school competitive speech and drama, a.k.a. more WORDS, only this time aloud and with some poise.
I have notebooks and bulletin boards and random scraps of paper — filled with words. And in the swirling wonderland of words that is my life, I still manage to have a favorite sentence. A quote from my favorite movie.
It’s a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself.
– Lester Burnham, American Beauty
Oh, Lester. You get me.
I’m content. Just in general. Not in a complacent, boring way, but in a genuinely happy and grateful way. I’m not overly ambitious, I don’t particularly like change, I hate money and decision making, and I generally don’t want to bother people. I’m good — just like this. So I often need Lester and my favorite sentence to remind me that it’s OK to be content and it’s OK to be happy, but it’s not OK to get too comfortable. “Surprising myself” has materialized in many ways over the years, but I love that articulation. That sentence reminds me that good, fun, incredible things can happen if I’m just willing to give the unknown a try.
Do you have a favorite sentence? Tell me I’m not the only one with a favorite sentence. What quote do you find yourself going back to again and again for motivation, for direction, for a kick in the pants when you need it?