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Words for Beautiful
Inoculating ourselves against despair
Do you know the number one word people are looking up on the Merriam-Webster online thesaurus these days?
It’s the word “beautiful,” and it’s beating out “sad,” “good,” and “important” by a long shot.
Learning this nugget of trivia made me so happy this week. I envisioned a kind-hearted army of keyboard warriors, scanning and scrolling for increasingly specific and precise language, for words that might conjure an impression of the ineffable so accurate it could pierce the heart or dampen the eyes.
If you were looking for evidence that there is any goodness left in humanity, this seems like a plausible start.
As it happens, I am well-acquainted with a number of synonyms for beautiful. And, in a spirit of service to my fellow humans, I’m happy to lob a few more onto the pile:
// When the baby was born—the triumphal culmination of over two years of grief and uncertainty—the husband brought forth two cheeseburgers and a bottle of champagne.
// After pounding her body over and along dusty trails for hours, she let the pelting streams of a hot shower applaud her grit and gradually restore her resolve.
// She was nearly brought to her knees by the dazzling sea of yellow, along with the startling realization that she’d only begun to scratch the surface of the joy she might be allowed to feel in this life.
New book smell.
//She wandered the airport bookstore, letting her eyes take in the heady disco of colors and fonts, running her fingers over crisp book jackets and glossy cover stock, every so often taking one down from the shelf and cracking it open for a hit of intoxicating new book smell.
// Me: Sorry I haven’t called you in days/weeks/months. Friend: No problem. I’m happy to hear from you.
Expanding the vocabulary we use to name the beauty in our lives can become a practice of opening to possibility and grace. It can become the inoculation we need to keep our souls from splintering despair.
What synonyms do you encounter in your daily life that encapsulate your experience of the beautiful?
I’m starting a kind-hearted vocabulary-expanding army.
And we’re always in search of a few more warriors.
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