Friday, March 31, 2017

Definition, Please (Five Minute Friday)

I'm very excited to again this week join a talented group of women who connect each Friday in an online, unedited flash mob free write based on a one-word prompt from our fearless leader Kate Motaung. My timer is set for 5 minutes; let's see where the word "definition" takes me.

Definitions are important to me. Important in almost every area of my life.

Sometimes my passion for definitions is a positive trait; in some cases, it isn't. And, as often is the case, whether it is a good thing or bad depends on the other person or people in my at-the-time situation.

The definition of words is key to me in my career as an English teacher. In that role, the vast majority of the time I can be found in a classroom talking with students or in my office conferencing with a single student or responding to student-written texts of one kind or another. In each situation, words and their usage and meaning are the basis of almost everything I focus on.

Some students appreciate my passion for words and for how all writers -- professional and student -- use words to create images and persuade others and share with the world their thoughts and ideas in ways that will resonate with their readers. 

Some students do not. They just want to know what they have to do in order to pass, and they simply do not see the connection with words and their accomplishment (or lack of) in communicating clearly with their audience. Words and definitions are not as important to them as they are to me.

This passion for words and their meaning and their power have led me to be a lifelong writer. Journals, short stories, this blog, an in-progress novel . . . words and their precise definitions are the foundation for everything I compose.

But sometimes my passion for definitions is a trait I attempt to quash. Sadly, I sometimes don't even attempt to redirect my thoughts but instead let them run rampant.

There are the times that I attempt to define people. People I know well, new acquaintances, and individuals and groups that I view from a distance. Without thinking, I often define them based on the fragments of information I quickly collect, often not stopping to that those snippets can in now way define that individual or group. 

And, all too often, I have and continue to define myself according to my role in other people's lives, what others think of me, of my momentary or long-term successes and failures, and other criteria that simply isn't credible or reliable. 

I know by what and Who I should define myself. But all-too-often I fail to do that.

I ran out of time here but wanted to add that I feel we all do that at some point or another. Some people quickly reorient their thinking and their assessment; others struggle with that. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts and hope you'll share via a comment. I long for this blog to become less a monologue and more a conversation. I hope you'll help make that happen. 


  1. Hi Patti, I'm next-door to you in the linkup today and am very glad to read your posts. I know just what you mean about defining people. I remember once seeing this young couple at the grocery store trying to price-match some bacon. They had the wrong package size so they couldn't get the match, and I was irritated because I thought they were careless and wasting everyone's time. A week or so later I was at a craft sale and there was the woman of the couple, selling jewelry that she and her son with autism made. It was really nice, and she was so confident and at ease with her son and others. I had misjudged her the first time but (which doesn't often happen) I got a chance to have my wrong first impression corrected. It was a good reminder to me not to define others so narrowly -- and your post is another good reminder of that. Thanks for writing! Nice to connect with you here on FMF again.

    1. Hmmm . . . I'm so confused -- I posted a response to your comment right after you posted and saw it, but now it's gone. Hmmm You are so right. I love hearing your experience in the grocery store, and it saddens me to think how often I do that without even thinking.

  2. The more I write, the more fascinating I find words. I love to learn new words and look up their definitions to really understand them. We do have to be careful with defining ourselves though, and others. Sometimes our first impressions can be very wrong. Visiting from FMF#39.

    1. Another word-person! :) Thank you for stopping by, Lesley!

  3. Hi Patti! I'm a reading specialist at an elementary school, so I can totally relate to your love for words! Thanks for the reminder about how we quickly define others just by looking...gotta work on that! Thanks!

    1. Aren't words fun?! Thank you for visiting -- I hope you'll come back :)