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This is Why I Write

So, I’m working on an essay about my escaping to the family farm in response to Mississippi’s racial mores that constricted behavior in the 1960s, and I’m using a bull (yep) as the central metaphor, and I’m afraid folks might not get it because the bull is incredibly destructive and he’s the POSITIVE metaphor, so I’m adding a summary sentence, and I’m looking for a word that means someone who refuses to submit to forcible attempts to control behavior, and I’m thinking iconoclast, but that’s too close to idol (which I’ve already used) and it’s not quite right anyway, so I go to the thesaurus (I’m not ashamed to admit it: I use the thesaurus) and I’m scrolling when I land on a word that I don’t know, and I look it up (in the online dictionary) and it is PERFECT: recusant: “one who refuses to accept or obey established authority.”

It’s not that I’m a word freak, not exactly. It’s that discovering the precise word I need to describe a phenomenon makes me sigh, ahhhhh. What I’m struggling to express is real. Someone else experienced it. They came up with a word for it. I have tapped into a vein of the shared human condition that is Life and, through that, I connect with the Communion of Saints (read that: humans) who have gone before me and will come after me, and we are all brothers and sisters, and that miracle happens thanks to a bull. And a word. My new favorite word: recusant.

 

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Comments (8)

  • A fine word recusant. I am surprised that I didn’t know it as it fits my self image pretty well. I hope to see your essay soon as it probes the mystery of places we both know.

  • Susanne Fletcher

    A loverly (think Eliza Doolittle) word. I use a thesaurus too as words fail to come to mind when I need them. I love getting lost in the thesaurus especially on-line and clicking the related words. So satisfying. The other thing that is satisfying about writing relates to your reply to Joseph Dawes and that’s the process of discovering what you’re trying to say which sometimes turns out to be quite different than when you start. Or at least it does for me. But maybe I’m just wishy-washy.

    • No, I agree about the “journey/discovery” aspect of writing—you’re not wish-washy. This essay began pretty innocuously, but it had these bizarro images for a “sweet summer” essay. Particularly the bull that decimated fences. I like where it went but, while it is descriptive, it’s not very experiential. Only time will tell.

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