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If You Were a Verb, What Would You Be?

February 9, 2010

I am a verb. • Ulysses S. Grant

This is post one hundred and fifty. That’s a dozen and a half dozens. That’s a lot of words. That’s obsessive for a daily spare time activity. I’m obsessive about lots of things, but I’m not particularly bothered by my obsessions. I usually revel in them. The title question here is an intriguing way to get to know a study group and today it’s my way of introducing my response to “if you were a verb,” written on June 20, 2007, as part of a class I was teaching.

Everyone brought three quotations that could inspire writing to class, each written on a separate piece of paper. We put all of the quotations into a paper bag* and each drew one out and wrote about it for five minutes. I pulled the Grant quotation. Here’s what I wrote:

There is no verb that I know of that describes the always active state of my mind, racing, connecting, excited about ideas, and always actively pursuing the joys of passionate engagement with life. This happens as I sit in a movie theatre, drift off to sleep, teach a class, laugh with a friend, drink a cup of tea, ride a roller coaster, sit in a meeting, talk on the telephone.

It’s relentless, yet it is seldom unpleasant—only frustrating sometimes when I want to sleep. And the comfort then of paper and pen and a light allow me to drift off, knowing I can always wake and write. I am a verb, but I am a word that exists outside the pejoratives associated with Type A, hyperactive, needs to mellow out, chill out kinds of language often used to describe such obsessiveness. This is not something I want to cure or lose.

But today as I reflect, I realize that perhaps my verb would be write. Or laugh. Or create. Or perhaps just smile.

If you were a verb, what would you be?

Life is a verb.
• Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing—a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process—an integral function of the universe.
• R. Buckminster Fuller (1970),
I Seem to Be a Verb

* I am a bit obsessed by multiple teaching demonstration and application units I’ve developed. It’s always fun to come with something new to add to them. This activity is part of “It’s in the Bag! Creative Sacktivities for Children of All Ages” which is also part of a larger unit called “Free, Cheap, and Out of the Trash.” Sacks and bags that have been previously used also fit into my “RecycleLit” materials. This overlappery makes me smile. Smile. I am.

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