“Oh dear god, another fucking cacao ceremony!?”
I muttered angrily to myself as I juggled plates and tried to hit the elevator button with my elbow, my office bag weighing down one arm and throwing precariously-balanced cutlery dangerously close to the edge my pile of plates.
I was in the middle of running an intensive for a client in a “co-working/co-living/wellness” space, and things were … well, not what you’d expect from a co-working/co-living/wellness space. A combination of some frankly shocking mismanagement and some serious attitude on the part of the staff had already left a bad taste in my mouth.
But the thing that put a fine gloss of crazy on top of the whole thing was the “authentic” “spiritual” touches sprinkled round the place like confetti.
A moss wall in a Fibonacci sequence. Ooh, spiritual!
A piece of yarn art in an “oh, right, I’m like, super mystical” pattern. Shivers. For reals.
A bowl and cup display of … something. Something that would have been potpourri if it had smelled good. Or a salad if it had tasted good. But it was neither of those things, so I can’t imagine what its purpose was. I can neither confirm nor deny that I tasted the “potpourri”.
Seriously, what was this for?
And then, of course, there were the “cacao ceremonies”.
I was there for a day and a half. I ran into FOUR of these things.
“Cacao ceremonies” left, right, and center throughout the building, consisting each time of a small circle of Gwyneth Paltrow-looking women sitting around sipping hot chocolate out of pottery cups and looking very serious, very zen.
Every time I found myself thinking, “You know these words mean things, right? You know, surely you know, that you can’t just make some hot chocolate, light up some sage, and call it a cacao ceremony, right?”
Apparently I was wrong.
And that has a lot of problems, for a lot of reasons. But words are my wheelhouse, so I’ll stick to that.
It may sound like I’m being an incredibly strange blend of obvious and picky, but words mean things.
All words do. And by that, I mean they have layers of meaning, and nuance, and history, that give them an impact, that, when they come out of your mouth, you’re responsible for.
It’s a sacred privilege to be able to take an idea from your brain, move your lips or fingers, and then put that into someone else’s brain.
And so that’s why I get all crotchety and pernickety about being deliberate with language.
Because in doing so, we’re playing with bottled lightning. Words are the way we create worlds. They the potential to change literally everything.
And sure, this was weird and appropriative and all kinds of icky things. I’m guessing you’re not going around smacking words from other cultures, laden with meaning, onto your work, because you’re not an asshole.
But it can show up in other, smaller ways.
Ways like choosing not to champion your conversation. Choosing to stay silent, or to play smaller than your scope (whatever size that is) is just as deliberate a use of your words as anything else, and can be just as powerful — for good or bad.
Ways like saying anything just because you feel like you should be saying something. Yeah, yeah, the Internet laws dictate that you’re supposed to post, like, all the fucking time. Whatever. It’s way more powerful to speak when you have something to say, than to simply broadcast. (And no one’s business ever died because they took a couple weeks off writing their newsletter.)
Ways like subsuming your voice to someone else’s voice in an attempt to attain what you see as their success by hijacking their conversation and tone. Have your own conversation, your own way, love.
Long story short: being deliberate with your words is one of the highest forms of respect you can have for your self, your work, and others.
And I’m REALLY into that. You?