As a Nevada County tradition, out local poet, Molly Fisk, invites us to choose a word for the new year.
Everyone gets into it. Some people have known their 2015 words for months. Some wait until February. Molly says there's no rush.
Mine came to me yesterday. It's "function."
I toyed with "mindfullness," but it was too detached at a time in my life when dryers, coffee makers, car batteries, and cells within me are malfunctioning.
And, as I mentioned in this interview, I've been struggling with art's function in post-Great-Recession America for some time.
1. the special purpose or activity for which a thing exists or is used
2. the job or duty of a person
3. a large ceremony or special event.
1. to work or operate
2. to have a specified funtion, role, or purpose
The fun part comes looking up the etymology of your word because there are always surprises:
Function (n) - 1530s, "proper work or purpose," from Middle French fonction (16c.) and directly from Latin functionem (nominative functio) "performance, execution," noun of action from functus, past participle of fungi "perform, execute, discharge," from PIE root *bheug- (2) "to use, enjoy." Use in mathematics probably begun by Leibnitz (1692).
I didn't expect "performance" or "to enjoy" in the definition. I was just hoping to function in 2015. But it gives me courage...excitement, even.
The best part is that function comes from the Latin word, functionem, and its past participle is fungi.
In Italian fungi means mushrooms, the focus of my art, my cooking (mushroom barely soup defrosts in my fridge right now), my health (I've just been reading about the curative properties of shiitake mushrooms), and my long walks with Tyler Foote, who loves mushrooms even more than I do.
I thought "function" was going to be a workhorse word, dry and practical. But like my favorite fungi, the word has depth and meatiness. It has umami, the 5th sense of savory flavor, a perfect word partner for 2015.
I'd love to hear your word if you feel like sharing.
Also, Molly Fisk has just released a new book of her fabulous radio essays entitled Using Your Turn Signal Promotes World Peace: More Observations from a Working Poet. You can order it here.
The 19th century print of the of the girl and her dog collecting mushrooms is available at Martin2001's Etsy Shop.
Happy New Year!