ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: My reference tools

© Another Day in the Country

My eyes aren’t what they used to be. There’s an increase in my reading glasses prescription and a lessening in my ability to read the fine print, which I’m certain is getting finer. We (my eyes, my glasses) are about to reach an impasse: a point at which no further progress can be made.

I squint more, need stronger light, and double check what I thought I saw, especially on the printed page, which I love to peruse: read thoroughly, according to a thesaurus, as there were “no results found” in the Encarta World English Dictionary on my very old laptop.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” I say into the ether: air (literary). If you are a squinter, like me, you might have read that last word in parenthesis as “literally: based on the explicit meaning of a word, instead of what it really says, “literary: fictional.

Peruse has got to be in the dictionary. I don’t trust that laptop dictionary.

What I do trust more than my old laptop reference tools when it comes to spelling or vocabulary is a little volume that I’ve had forever called “Twenty Thousand Words,” which was the secretary’s friend back in the days.

Of course, no one under 65 is going to even know what I’m talking about, “I guarantee it!” Who says that?

When anyone says “I guarantee it!” most of us take it for a bunch of balderdash: senseless or pointless talk, unless there is also an offer on the table for a refund of whatever we’ve invested: to buy or participate in a business enterprise.

I’ve also heard slogans about making America great again, and I wonder, “What does that even mean, to be great again?” A hundred people have a hundred different ideas. Meanwhile I can’t think of any greater country than the USA, even with our foibles: an idiosyncrasy or small weakness.

The greatness I aspire to for our country is to be great as in fair, strong, ethical, growing, helpful. Are those your definitions? My reference tools identify great: having made remarkable achievements, powerful, influential, very good, large, impressive, and noble, and in my book, sometimes we’ve lived up to that and sometimes we haven’t.

Sometimes I’m proud of America and sometimes embarrassed. Greatness depends on “we the people” and a definition depends on where you’re looking and with whom you are talking.

Election news is tricky: requiring skill, caution or tact, but I’m hungry to hear truth: a statement that corresponds to fact.

It is ironic: incongruous, tongue in cheek, that there are a whole bunch of definitions on my laptop for the concept of truth. While fact, honesty, or reality, all verifiable, are listed, the meaning of truth moves around a tad: a very slight amount. I see words like “generally believed” or “sincere” in the definition of truth, which makes me antsy: apprehensive because some general beliefs need to be fact-checked and sincere doesn’t cut it if you’re flat-out wrong.

It’s the more solid definitions of truth, like honesty, integrity, and accuracy, for which I yearn: the feeling of sadness because of the difficulty or impossibility of fulfilling the desire, in a political candidate.

This whole train of thought about definitions and perception started when I decided to watch a movie called “The Revenant” with Leonardo DeCaprio. When the film first came out, I didn’t wanted to see it in a theater because it’s full of violence and I don’t need to see that portrayed bigger than life. I’d wait until it was offered free, and smaller, on television, where I could fast-forward through the worst parts.

“What does revenant even mean?” my sister asked as we sat down to watch.

I didn’t have the foggiest idea; I’d never heard the word before. So I looked up the word in my reference tools. Revenant: a dead person believed to have come back as a ghost (literary).

“Did it say ‘literally?’” I wondered, “And do people really believe that?”

It’s another day in the country and I double-checked the word revenant and discovered the word is literary (fiction) and not literal (fact), which left me feeling better about the title of the movie and the world in general. Surely, we can still detect a work of fiction: something untrue, made up to deceive, pretending, when we hear it!

Last modified Sept. 22, 2016