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Words as Incantations

Jerry and I practiced hitting golf balls the other day. The core of our practice was to try to feel the swing as open. My practice was saying the word to myself before hitting, to get a kind of proprioceptive feel for the word, and then trying to allow that feeling to continue throughout the swing. I can report that it worked for both of us. We both hit some beautiful shots.

After we were done practicing, I noticed, and Jerry agreed, that there was something almost incantatory about the use of the word–that somehow, in using it and repeating it, we brought about within the body the feeling of the word.

That led me to wonder, what if we explored the incantatory powers of other words in this same context? And what if we considered what the implication of word-as-incantation was in regards to other words that sometimes get used around the golf swing. What might that reveal?

Here’s a list of ten words I have heard or can imagine being used to describe the swing. I’m going to list them without any context or connotative judgment, and some of them could have multiple meanings in terms of describing the swing. As you read each one, see what it evokes for you.

  • hard
  • powerful
  • soft
  • easy
  • smooth
  • fast
  • slow
  • full
  • flowing
  • rhythmic

I wonder what would happen, for good or bad, if we were to evoke each of those words during our practice sessions.

Because our focus this year has been less about sports and more about the energy of what’s happening in our society and in our political realm, this got me thinking about the broader social implications of the energy of words.

I and other writers have used some powerful words to describe our political situation:

  • partisan
  • gridlocked
  • dysfunctional
  • corrupt
  • collapsing

I found myself wondering, what if people tried to explore the energetic evocations of some other words in our dealings with each other? What if we started using different words to describe our thinking about our government, our political system, our political situation, and the dynamic forces in our society out of which our political world arises? What would happen if we explored some words with a less sharp connotation? Understand that I’m just playing with an idea here; I haven’t come to any particular conclusion.

Here’s some words from the list above:

  • open
  • flowing
  • easy
  • smooth
  • full
  • powerful
  • flexible

Let me repeat that I’m just playing here. I don’t have a conclusion. I just noticed that as I was thinking about this idea, a question arose: how certain am I that the words I use to describe our political situation (which are, let’s face it, mostly negative in connotation) describe, and how much are they, in some way or another, evoking?

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