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  • Ali

Verbing it

Updated: May 5, 2019


taken outside the cathedral in Perth, Scotland

Walking up the mountain path on the west side of town, I had been listening comfortably to words that storied my friends' lives;

challenges with coworkers,

new creative ideas for a project,

clearly expressed questions, thoughtful dialogue.

For a few months now, I had been finding it difficult to say much of anything. So much was

going on in my life, yet there was not a way to say anything about it that made much sense.

So I dreaded the inevitable moment when the conversation would turn to me,

"So Ali, catch us up. What's going on with you?"

I said a few things that just weren't meaning what I wanted them to mean, so I started an

irrelevant but charactered story just to fill in the space, a story about someone somewhere

doing something, anything to keep in step with this walking and talking way we had always

felt connected to one another.

After several minutes of saying something I wanted to mean something, I let the conversation

drift back to someone else.

I thought, as we walked, and later as I drove home, "I am so inarticulate!" Why cant I SAY

what is happening here, in my life, in my situation? I had always been good with words,

finding the flow of language to be easy, until lately.

It had been months of this strange inarticulate experience.

The word, "inarticulate" stayed with me much of the evening and, like an earworm, sung to

me an accusing, relentless song throughout the night.

It hung like a scarf of shame... an adjective, pointing, descriptive, telling, revealing a lack....

I fell asleep in the loud wordlessness of it. What is this inarticulate thing about me these days?


Sleep is often a lovely tide that comes in and saturates the unfinished details of living,

carrying them out to a deeper place, holding, rocking them, tugging at and rearranging them,

then returning them to shore just as dawn breaks.

I woke as the light was touching the tip of the neighbor's roof, one bird chirping in the distant dark, the street empty, dark and quiet, my dog breathing heavily at the foot of my bed.

I said aloud, with a surprising affection, "I'm inarticulating!"

I felt that in my body as I sat up, a sinking, spreading, grounding feeling sinking into my belly, then down my legs.

"I'm inarticulating! That's why words don't come in the same way. This is not a lack, but a fullness. It's not that I'm inarticulate.

It's that I'm inarticulating! I'm doing something. And what I'm doing is Inarticulating!"

The image came of the tree, above, which my daughter and I noticed in Scotland, at about the time this whole inarticulating experience was beginning.

One moment, the tree simply looked like an odd mess, a scramble of branches.

Then it seemed to come to life, a living, Celtic knot in motion. I saw a whole conversation in movement, branching itself....

This was the birth of my new word, which eventually became this website.

Welcome to the world of inarticulating...




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