My intention with this blog is to puzzle through, while writing, what a word signifies to me. As I get feedback I’m finding I’m not alone in being confused by the different interpretations of a word. I find it interesting how some words produce an emotional reaction. These triggers can send our thoughts rushing to unintended conclusions. We lose sight of the original intent of the conversation and dialogue ceases to be productive.
I sent a Twitter message recently, saying that I was ‘freaking out’ about an upcoming event. It was interpreted in a negative way. Often, that is the way it is for me: I find myself exclaiming (out of wonder or joy) and someone is always there trying to explain my wonderment as a way to cover for me. I suspect some fail to understand why anyone could just be enthusiastic about things. I get that context matters, but funny why we so often jump to the negative connotation as a matter of course.
A headline in my city’s newspaper described our Prime Minister as ‘Freaking Out’ over a heckler’s comments at a political event. Watching the video clip in question I didn’t find that he behaved extraordinarily freaky but he was sure passionate about his desire for an inclusive immigration policy.
Everyone can name some classic bad words that we are taught not to use. Usually they have a racial, religious or body part implication. For example the N-word is clearly a mistake racially speaking. The C-word is particularly disturbing to women. In Quebec I wouldn’t use the T-word. Even in our progressive age it’s considered impolite to drop the F-bomb.
I taught a student whose surname was Freak. She never got teased about her name that I was ever aware of during her time in my classroom. It would be great to ask her about her perception of this word now that she has grown. A male named Richard must guard the long form of his name carefully as the shortened version is cringeworthy. As with any word, particularly if it’s your name, you must make amends with yourself. Any perception of our difference is often considered freakish, yet we all have oddities within us. I tend to like the freaky part of me even though I am shy to show it. This positive value of respecting diversity is a regular theme in the Arts. Two examples:
On Broadway; Shrek, The Musical https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSDetuag6zU
On Vinyl; CSN&Y ‘Deja Vu’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Lk2KHajp4Y
I’m old enough to have gone to a circus to see odd people. One of my favourite movie musicals of late is The Greatest Showman. P.T. Barnum hires “freaks” to be put on display to a paying audience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjxugyZCfuw
The characters in this film found a common connection and some felt that within the circus they had a place they could finally call home.
Embracing our freakiness might actually save us.