Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Word of the Year 2013: Turn

Resolutions so rarely work for me that I gave them up ages ago. Still one wants to the honor the New Year with some sort of fresh direction. So I’ve joined that merry band of folks who chose a word for the year – or rather, allow a word of significance to choose them. The idea is that the word will resonate in some way throughout the year, maybe giving a bit of direction or providing some measure of clarity or understanding of one’s self in one’s world. No guarantees of course, but I’m always surprised at the correlation between the word and the events of the year. When I remember to do it, that is. I skipped last year, or at least I didn’t write it down, which is pretty much the same thing.

This year TURN has turned shown up. It’s a rich word, with both noun and verb  (transitive and intransitive) chock full of nuances and uses. My baby OED (DK Illustrated) devotes two columns to it sans illustrations; the Free Dictionary definition including all turns (oops) of phrases runs to 8 pages single-spaced.

Whew, I must be anticipating a busy year.

Turn has strong and clean bloodlines, coming from Old English tyrnanturnian, from Latin tornare, from tornus 'lathe', from Greek tornos 'lathe, circular movement'. I like the sense of the lathe paring away the excesses, revealing the true or desired form; it feels so appropriate. Especially when I’ve vowed to absolutely de-clutter my studio room. Someday. Soon.  But I'm also interested in paring away the un-necessary baggage of living and getting down to a simpler, more authentic sort of existence. 

Turn: The basic definition is to move in a circular direction around a center point; but this movement is modified in many ways: turn over, turn around, turn up, turn in, turn aside, turn away, turn down, turn inside out, upside down. We take turns, make turns; we get turned on, turned out; we turn turtle, turn a profit, turn a somersault. All meanings that indicate a sharp,  distinct change in direction.

This year I am turning (ok, I'm giving in now) one of those big corners in life: retirement from my job as office administrator and a re-turn to life centered around writing and the outdoors. (See what I mean? Turn is everywhere!) I plan to turn over a new leaf in my writing discipline and practice, and of course, turn my rough drafts into finished pieces. I want to turn away from an out-grown mode of living and turn onto a new path, turn into new patterns of functioning. 

But right now I’m going to turn this into a blog post and turn in for the night.