Spinning in Place For Want of a Word

I sat on the love seat watching the fire burn down, sat there much longer than the usual wait to close down the draft just so and get on about my work. My work. I sat there in the flickering dark because I understood so well that I don’t understand so well anymore just what my work is or ought to be.

So I sat there a little longer, trying to put that feeling into words–the better if there was one word that would wrap that complex state into a single breath. Or not. It is not really that important to make this happen, having lost the urge to plead my case to any other, and my one word, then, should include that solipsist inclination. Still…

With my second cup of coffee, Stumbler-ing across the interwebs, I find by chance (or not) “23 emotions people feel but can’t explain.” I would have said “can’t express” because it is often entirely possible to trace the above-ground branches back to their hidden roots. There are just no words in ordinary Everyman language to share with others, or to graps within the speechless moments of the ruminative word-seeker.

And this list at least lets me know that there are people–writers, mostly, because who else would do the work?–out there, in their own private dark, creating words like conjured stepping stones at the moment of need, to be able to get about their work, to take the next step.

It is a comfort to know these words describe experiences not unlike mine that have arisen in the lives of others. The obscurity of these odd words, however, will make them awkward to use in a conversation at the Country Store. Even so, the sum total of these selected few gives me a few pavers in the darkness of the day.

Liberosis: The desire to care less about things.

Nodus Tollens: The realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.

Exulansis: The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it.

Ellipsism: A sadness that you’ll never be able to know how history will turn out.

Onism: The frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time.

Anecdoche: A conversation in which everyone is talking, but nobody is listening

Vemödalen: The frustration of photographic something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist.

Monachopsis: The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.

John Green’s tumblr • 23 Emotions people feel, but can’t explain 

Graphic created with WordItOut, since Wordle doesn’t play nice with Chrome–with some additional tweaking to distort text and overlay it against deep space. It is a kind of occupational therapy.

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fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

3 thoughts on “Spinning in Place For Want of a Word”

  1. The words coined aren’t so hot, but the feelings are recognizable! PLEASE don not stop photographing the amazing things you see, even though you know they are archived out there many times. Lost in space does no one any good. Fresh images are still valuable because of the breath of immediacy on them. And you never know until you take the photo whether it will turn out better than any previous image!

  2. If I was creating words to express complex states of mind, I think I would have gone to latin and greek roots, since that is the source of much of our evolved English words. Perhaps some of these 23 have that source, though I did not recognize that in any of them at a glance.

    I often need words that don’t exist, and have made up some from whole-cloth, but more often, I’ll hyphenate two words that might not ordinarily go together in such fashion.

    Also other languages (possible source for some of these terms?) are often more rich in words about important cultural life features (e.g. Eskimos purported 50 terms for snow) so that English is handicapped in expressing aspects of life well known to speakers of other languages.

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