This past week, I was struck by how the ego and the mind can transform and shake the very core of a person through the utterance of a single word. In my case, the word was "legal." To make a long story short, there was a question at the NYC Marriage Bureau as to the authenticity of my business and home address (which I had changed three years ago when I moved - but that is besides the point). The clerk there (who was only doing her job) told me that, the next day, I would have to call the "legal" department in order to straighten everything out, as everyone had already gone home for the day.
While, in the end, the phone conversation to rectify the situation took less than 5 minutes and everything was perfectly fine - the questions that began racing through my mind at the utterance of the word "legal" were earth-shattering to me: "Does that mean I am not a legal wedding officiant?" "Can I still perform weddings and do what I was called her to do?" "How can this be?" "How can this be happening to me?" "Did I do something wrong?" "Are any of my couples in jeopardy?" I was completely rocked to the core of who I am and FEAR (False Expectations Appearing Real) began to overtake my body. I became sick to my stomach; I couldn't eat; all I could do was re-hash the situation to my loved ones who surrounded me and enveloped me with love, talking me "down from the ledge" and listening to my tears and concerns.
In the end, all my couples are legal. All the weddings I have performed are legal. No one is in jeopardy. No one was harmed in the uttering of this word - except me. While the "curse" of this utterance was all of the suffering and mental anguish I needed to endure that evening, the "blessing" of this seemingly innocuous word was the realization of and compassion towards all of those for whom a single word IS an earth-shattering moment. It doesn't really matter WHAT the word is - the word could be any number of things from Divorce to Cancer; from Pregnant to Bankrupt; from Rejection to Acceptance; from Yes to No. Any myriad of options can be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back.
The definition of the word WORD is as follows: (n.) "A sound or a combination of sounds, or its representation in writing or printing, that symbolizes and communicates a meaning."
What single word is your earth-shattering utterance? What power and symbolism do you give that single word and allow it to "hold" over you? How can you thank that word and re-frame it into something that no longer scares you, but, instead, intrigues you, makes you curious, allows you to serve? How can we begin to change the way society views certain words and allow words to help, assist, and nurture instead of hurt, maim, and destroy?