May 20, 2016
“If you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up too much space.”
― Stephen Hunt, British Writer
STUFF I KNOW © Kathleen McKern Verigin
My mother passed onto me her passion for words. She’d often say that she’d read anything, even the labels on cans, simply because she loved words and how cleverly they fit together. My passion expanded when I developed a fascination for taking words apart. Specifically, prefixes and how they can dramatically change the meaning of something.
For example, consider the word understand. If stand is the root of the word, then under would be the prefix. So, to understand, means to look below the surface of what stand is taken. Makes perfect sense, to me. But consider this. What if the prefix of understand is un, meaning not? Then derstand would be the root word. What does derstand mean? Webster obviously didn’t share me curiosity, but the wordsmiths at the Urban Dictionary do. Derstand means to un-understand. Oh, the fun my mom would have had with this wee inner dialogue!
The prefix that intrigues me today, inspired by the poem below, is peri, meaning around, near, about—the edge of something. When I was in peri-menopause—those fabulous two to twelve years of a woman at mid-life—I pondered the prefix while walking the shoreline at the Coast. I wanted to feel what an edge felt like. To my great joy, I noticed that the edge of the Pacific Ocean is marvelously random. It’s not a straight edge, nor are the phases of our lives. We are always in peri-something. Nothing is static. There are no blocks. We are free to be. And speaking of be. As a prefix it means…..
At The Edge (by Rev. Liah Rose)
Bubbling up from the Earth
No longer held captive by rock and soil
Making its way to the surface, it breaks free
A spring is formed
Drawn by the forces of nature, she forms a pool
Growing as she bubbles forth from the depths
Finally spilling her undefined banks,
Escaping all confinement, she becomes a stream
Tumbling over stones, small or large
Meandering around trees, ferns, shrubs
She winds her way toward more of her kind
Joining together they become a creek
Wider, more defined, now, she feeds life.
Insects first, then the frogs and fish to eat them
Ever reaching for something more, something greater
She merges with the river, joining the quest
Rushing faster, boulders cannot stop her
Cutting her own path, deeper, wider
Into the Earth from which she first emerged
The river flows to the sea.
Fresh river water is infused with its salty counterpart
The saltwater ocean diluted by the river
Carried inland by the tides, and out by the pull of the sea
It all meets here at the edge