It’s not every single day, or maybe it is, when a moment presents itself to us that just stinks of importance. That is, if one is interested in taking their human experience to the next level. It is in these moments that people could benefit greatly from a little reflection, and time to allow the words, “I think I could use a little adjustment here” to bubble up.
For all you lovers of remaining exactly the way you are, consider this: Unless you are seriously deranged, you are not the same person with the same beliefs that you were at the age of six; you no longer want to marry your mommy, or have an imaginary friend. These ideas have been discarded and replaced because you’ve spent time really thinking about them: You’re actually not that attracted to your mom and/or you could probably do better, and imaginary friends don’t have private parts.
Why should it be any different when one is 40, 50, 60, or even 70, for that matter? There is no magic age that we get to when the universe suddenly makes complete sense and as a result, so do all of our thoughts and actions. One has to be willing to shed old beliefs and make room for new ones that help society. And by society, I mean me.
By practicing a little self-awareness, we can achieve new levels of understanding, about ourselves and others. What better place for a person to start than with grammar.
Specifically, I’m referring to pronoun usage.
As a refresher, pronouns take the place of (rename) nouns: I, me, he, she, it, that, this, etc. Overuse of pronouns, a.k.a., pronounarrhea, results in vague sentences that require even more talking. And if there is one thing the world doesn’t need more of, it’s talking. The irony of this statement is not lost on me.
Allow me to illustrate. Recently, my husband and I were carrying a high-backed loveseat down our staircase. Halfway down, our stairs split and go in two directions toward the first floor; there is a small, 4 x 5 foot landing at the split, where one can go left, toward the front entryway, or right, toward the family room. So there we were, on either side of the cumbersome couch, which prevented the sharing of non-verbal clues of any kind. And then, this happened:
Husband: Okay, you can lower it a little and go this way.
Wife: Which way?
Husband: THIS way, THIS way!
Need I say more?
The relative pronoun, “THIS,” even in its all-capped glory, really didn’t tell me a friggin’ thing. So I guessed left. Turns out, I was correct, which is why I said this:
Wife: Just a note for future reference: it’s ok to be specific and say, “my left” or “your right.”
Had I guessed wrong, and zigged when he zagged, we’d have probably dropped it, which would have resulted in this long-winded conversation:
Husband: I said THIS way!
Wife: This staircase has two THIS ways, Einstein!
Parking lots are another location where one can experience messy bouts of pronounarrhea.
“There! That one!”
Now I ask you: Would it be so hard to say, “to the right,” or “on the left?” I mean, I see frantic pointing going on out of my peripheral vision, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to glance over and see exactly where my passengers are pointing. I don’t know about you, but when I have an important decision to make, for example, whether to take my eyes off the road while I’m driving, I think ahead to when I might have to explain my decision to another human being who is not in a coma.
“Well, the reason I just rolled into your car going 15 mph is because despite the fact that the State of California has allowed me to possess a valid driver’s license for thirty years, I was unable to find an open parking space without the help of my co-pilot(s), who are fond of pronouns. Can I go now?”
Have a crazy grammar story of your own to share? Email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.