Sunday, June 10, 2007
Choosing the Right Words
“When you stop learning, you stop living,” my late dad, a reading advocate, used to say. I took that to heart and try to learn something new everyday, hoping to live to a ripe old age.
Yesterday I learned about the exciting world of anagram from my friend Adie. He and I share the same advocacy: advertising that adheres to the code of ethics. Which is why we see each other at least twice a month.
In our last meeting, while polishing off our lunch, we chatted about his favorite de-stressing activity: anagram. I gasped and rasped a “wow” at the lengths the world has gone to advance anagram art. Today it is a game that is becoming more and more popular among office executives throughout the English-speaking world.
Anagram as I knew it is was simply: a word or phrase spelled by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase—to discover a hidden meaning. Adie’s anagram of “Come to Marlboro Country” = “Cancer Tumor or Lobotomy” earned for him first prize in the worldwide anagram group to which he is an active member; and from me a standing ovation.
But, Adie tells me, that’s nothing. Anagram artists can now work on a poem, a whole essay, or even a book!
I had in mind images of Adie hunched for hours on his desk, ticking off each letter with a pencil and a huge eraser as he forms a new word from one word. “No,” he says. “I have just installed a software called Anagram Artist in my Mac.” This makes rearranging letters and words so much easier and faster. It also allows him, more than ever, to be more creative with the emerging new word or phrase.
Our conversation so fascinated me I surfed the net on anagrams. My mind-bending discoveries included Cory Calhoun’s anagram of Shakespeare’s (the Bard) most famous line in Hamlet:
“To be or not to be: that is the question, whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”
“In one of the Bard's best-thought-of tragedies, our insistent hero, Hamlet, queries on two fronts about how life turns rotten.”
I tried my hand at this new learning with the word “grace.” I came up with nothing. Grace is grace. It is complete.
I ponder the word, which is what this blog is all about in the first place, and its completeness—which is written in the scriptures—never fails to overwhelm. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV) quoted the Giver of unmerited gifts, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."
As I ponder other words, put them together, and give them sense and dimension, I am bowled over by the gazillion of possibilities at my disposal.
Whether anagramming, writing, or simply wordsmithing, we all swim in endless possibilities. But in the end, one has to make choices from this sea of alternatives. It is in the picking that learning--and eventually, skill--takes shape. These come not from our own making, but from a power so big it makes ours so puny.
So, really, everything boils down to one word, grace.
Complete and sufficient, grace is at work when one gains insight into the right word choices that glorify the Giver.
Grace D. Chong = ragged conch? Ouch.