Thursday, October 04, 2007


Today at work I have my hair up in what looks like regular prom finery. A bun high on my head, the hair from which it’s gathered loosely poofing around my face and dangling the occasional curly strand – all that’s lacking is some shimmering tiara or woven jewels. Except I didn’t work that hard on my hair. To confess, I bent over, combed my wet hair with my fingers over the top of my head, grabbed it all near the crown of my head, began to twist, stood upright, kept twisting and coiling, had the whole thing almost done, untwisted the base a bit, and hair-clipped it in place, pushing extra poofiness forward a bit. The rest of the dramatic curls and strands resulted from sleeping on the style.

Being incredibly bored this morning, I began to wonder whether my hair matched my rule for hairstyles: does it make me look beautiful? Ok, so it’s a really lax rule. Anyway, I tried to remember my reflection this morning. It was presentable, not ridiculous, looked nice. I didn’t rebel at my image in the mirror, so I guess it’s all right.

Think about it. Beautiful. Presentable. Appropriate. Not everything beautiful is presentable, or vice versa. The way my hair looks is maybe not even appropriate: if I were costuming the role of receptionist, her hair would be done tighter, and less dramatically. But then I don’t always look my part. I don’t look any expected part.

Do you ever have trouble coming up with adjectives? In English we are simply lacking in words to say some things. For example, I was trying to describe the mood of each track on my three Lord of the Rings Soundtrack CD’s for my Windows Media Player. I hope to have a mood category for almost every song on my computer so I can play similar music. Playlists are often inadequate. I usually compile them by lyrical content. What about when I need movement music? Or crying sounds? Anyway, I ran into difficulty describing At the Sign of the Prancing Pony, a track that reminds me of firesides. There is not an adjective for that, so I called it Fireside, and am properly delighted with the title, which I proceeded to apply to a few other tracks on the CD.

Again at the end of the Fellowship of the Ring, we have this music that blends the thoughts of travel, there and back again, endurance, rest, rivers, and climbing. What word can possibly contain all of that? Maybe that’s why we don’t say it; we write the feelings into music. The word I chose was Journey, a word that inspires me while always falling short of all that it means. I believe the literal translation has something to do with a day’s accomplishment, and the music was talking about a lifetime or a world-history of wanderings. I know another song to be classified here, one titled simply Meditation #4 Selah, by Michael Card. Drawing from the melody to which he put the 23rd Psalm, I have fallen asleep many nights with this song playing rivers falling from the hills into my dreams.

But think how many words we have to express our varied reactions to appearances of people: beautiful, pretty, attractive, stunning, dashing, fine, lovely, presentable, handsome, smart, elegant, graceful, gorgeous, striking, cute, charming, ravishing, fair… I’m sure there are more, and that’s just on the good side. Not only do these words have common-use meanings, but their roots communicate the impulses or feelings experienced by the observer; or maybe a comparison; or ultimately, an absolute (like beauty). We are not cursed with paltry words for this need as we are for others.

Why is that?

To God be all glory.

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