How You Look At It

I saw the above comment on a blog post not to long ago. I understood that commenter was attempting to be sympatico to the blogger’s post by quoting the phrase. I understood what she was trying to say. Still, my mind record-scratched and went all Inigo Montoya: I do not think it means what you think it means.

The blogger used the phrase “navel gazing”. It was used in the modern sense – being unintentionally or narcissitically self-absorbed on a given matter to the near exclusion of others views. In the blogger’s case it was truly unintentional as it pertained to the post and made sense. It wasn’t the commenter’s use of the phrase of which I took umbrage, but the news example used to demonstrate the point.

Corona virus has become a common part of the American lexicon for the past three weeks. Even so, thanks to media misinformation, it made it sound like something that was only happening overseas. Sure some have heard of it before then, but it had not reached critical mass until recently. Let’s be real, most of us here in the US, likely did not give much credence to its dangers until last week when the direness of it touched our personal shores.

I had read the article mentioned. The rafters were on the Colorado River completely “off the grid.” If they were just returning from their three-week excursion this week, that means they started their trip before it became a major thing here. They had no communication with the outside world for three weeks. How could they know what was now happening here in the States? Who wouldn’t have a moment of utter disbelief upon hearing such news? That is not navel-gazing and thus my knee-jerk, The Princess Bride, response at what was more than likely the commenter’s knee-jerk response to the blog post however unfair it seemed to me to the river rafters.

And as my mind is wont to do – it then leaped from Inigo Montoya to semantics – or specifically semantic change. Semantic Change is the term for how some words or phrases change meaning over time. For example: the word awful was once used the way we now overuse the word awesome – something that fills one with awe – a very good thing. That certainly is not how we use awful now. An even better example is how we now use the word gay compared to its original use. That in turn circled my brain to Omphaloskepsis.

Omphaloskepsis. I knew there was a word for navel-gazing that did not have a medical prefix like ortho or optha. So yes, I did have to look that up. Navel-gazing‘s etymology was meditative-contemplative-almost religious in connotation originally. That type of self-absorption was not the bad thing being a navel gazer implies now.

And that is about the point I realized my own mind was navel gazing, in the bad way, to the point of being pedantic about the whole thing. I closed my mental Funk and Wagnalls and decided to slice about my insane mind and its internal wiki-walk. And if don’t know what look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls means – you may not want to, because depending on how you look at it, you bet your sweet bippy you’ll either grin in rememberance or groan in regret.


Here I am grinning and groaning on Day 21, of the Slice of Life Writing challenge for 2020 – let’s see how others are slicing it:

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7 thoughts on “How You Look At It

  1. I am always looking up words. Afraid of misunderstanding and misuse. That fear has taught me a lot about words and my understanding of words. Another word that flummoxes (perplex, greatly; bewilder) me is inflammable.

  2. It is something how the meaning of a word can change over time. If one is only familiar with a single meaning hearing used in a nontraditional way can really blow one’s mind. English – an ever growing and changing language.

    • Some words change meaning, some keep their meaning but come near obsolete. When’s the last time we’ve “forsooth”ed something? We’re not even down with the jive anymore, man. 😂

  3. I love how you took RedEmma’s comment and took a deep dive with it! And yes, I both grinned and groaned about being told to go look it up … in Merriam Webster’s in my case! 🙂

    • Sometimes this brain makes mountains out of molehills and then reverses the process and all I can do is is hope I find the emergency brake quickly to stop it. That was not one of those times – 😂!

      I no longer have a Funk and Wagnalls, but Merriam Webster’s Abridged still sits regally on my bookshelf.

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