Tag Archives: oxford dictionary

po·tiche & hurl·ing

A potiche. Isn't it lovely? I want it!

po·tiche n. Pl. pronounced same. L19 [Fr.] A large (esp. Chinese) porcelain jar or vase with a rounded bulging shape and a wide mouth, freq. having a lid.

hurl·ing  n. LME. [f. HURL v. + -ING.] 1. The action of HURL v.; throwing, casting, esp. with violence.  LME. 2a. The game of hurley, in which two parties attempt to hurl or carry a ball to a distant goal.  E17. 3. Strife; commotion. LME-M17.  4. (The sound of) the violent rushing of wind.  LME-M17.

On my birthday two weeks ago, I decided to use the two volume Oxford Dictionary at the house where I was staying to pick two words for myself, for that day, maybe even the year. I closed my eyes, flipped the pages, picked a page and, eyes still closed, ran my index finger across the page. These were the two I came up with. And I think there is something beautiful in their pairing. There is beauty and fragility. And there is roughness, throwing, casting out with violence. There is softness and force. And isn’t this really every day in this world of ours?

The beauty of a child’s laughter. The violence of war, broadcast over the radio or television waves. The softness of a hug from a dear friend. The force of a backhanded comment, a gossipy word said behind your back. The fragility of a flower impossibly growing up out of the asphalt. And the strife of a field burnt from harsh sun and lack of water. The rough elegance of a beaded necklace. And the elegant roughness of the calloused hands that beaded it.

Sometimes we value the tender over the forceful. And sometimes we value force over tenderness. The qualities themselves exist without good or evil. It is the way in which we employ these qualities that give them meaning. And the truth is that we need a balance. I think of how, as a young woman, I had the realization that I needed to be more assertive. At first this seemed contradictory. I felt in conflict with myself. I worried about having to be someone other than who I was. But then I realized that asserting my voice and making myself heard wasn’t about denying my feminine qualities. It was about honoring all of me, all I had to offer: the tender, the grace, and the violent rushing of wind.

A "hurler"

and for fun!

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