I only mean it to be a mindless escape. Bored and frustrated in my business writing job, I furtively doodle on a scrap pad I keep hidden, before someone walks into my office again to hand me the next pages for editing. Just harmless random scribblings. That's all. Nothing like concocting a future, for goodness sake.
And certainly not getting a new name.
But the future and the name happen...like this....
One day, I am sitting in my office, drumming my pen against a stack of printouts. Sigh. Yet another revision of a sales and marketing curriculum I am cranking out for my boss. What am I doing here? Sure, I know how to do this job. But what am I going to do about the me—underutilized, disconnected, barely caring—who is ready to climb out the window and escape to the cafe across the street for croissants, coffee, and my book? How am I going to keep me—who needs this paycheck, oh yes—in this chair, ceaselessly editing and reediting umpteen pages, eight hours a day, five days a week...?
Me, a business writer? Ugh.
In stark contrast, I love being an educator and a “language architect,” someone who plays with and builds with language as naturally as she breathes. But numerous years of unlivable salaries had pushed me out the classroom door and yanked me through the business turnstile.
In heart-tugging contrast, I know my true job as an educator is to be a “learning midwife” who leads out (the root meaning of “educate”) possibility (what could be), purpose (what needs to be), passion (what wants to be), potential (what is ready to be), and promise (what intends to be) in my students—and myself—to create futures we dearly desire.
In frustrated contrast, I also know that our language choices—especially those embedded within images and stories, whether conscious or not—are the power tools that create futures, both those deeply desired and those desperately unwanted.
On the other hand, many companies—especially those that operate under a single bottom line: profit—use images and stories to persuade people to buy more and more to create desirable financial futures...for business.
On this day in my office, doodling my escape instead of climbing out the window, the “True Kathy equation” is clear:
K = teacher/educator + language architect
K ≠ business writer + marketer
I look at the neatly typed curriculum pages. What good am I doing here?
I look at my messy handwritten scrawls. What am I supposed to be doing instead?
My pen scribbles, “The Linking Verb.” Huh? Where did that come from—and what does it mean? Wait. I remember. English grammar, 6th or 7th grade. Something to do with “verbs of being”--to be, to appear, to seem, to feel, to become, etc.—rather than doing.
I grab a dictionary. Yeah, a linking verb connects the subject of a sentence to information about the subject. For instance, “I am hungry” and “You seem happy” are observations of my/your state of being. Likewise, “The ice cream tasted good” describes an inner condition—of someone blissed out on Ben and Jerry's—in contrast to the same verb showing action (with possible consequences): “You tasted my ice cream—and now it's gone!”
Linking verbs. Okay, I get it. What next? Am I supposed to join the Language Police, spending day after day chasing down grammatical errors and the miscreants who dare to commit them? No. Way. Just thinking about it makes me want to escape to the nearest croissant.
So how can I be The Linking Verb?
Twenty-five years later, I may have an answer.
Or at least a bunch of new questions that make my heart somersault.
What if this Linking Verb could connect us—you, me—to the biggest, deepest, truest state of our being...to who we really are?
What if—from the inside out—we really are:
Unwrapped packages of possibility, purpose, passion, potential, and promise that “get opened” most powerfully in the stories we tell about ourselves and each other
Fully present and compassionate gifts to the world that, when shared, changes it—for good
A “deep gladness” that is most fully alive when meeting “the world's deepest needs”
What if being The Linking Verb is my deep gladness, my way to be a fully present and compassionate gift to the world...starting with this very blog?
I seem to be The Linking Verb, ready at last to:
Pay awesome attention
Tell soulful stories
Unwrap deep-gladness gifts
Nourish this awakening world.