One Apple A Day #892 – being whole and healthy

I love words. 

Behind the words that we use every day, there are stories and journeys reflecting and defining our culture and how we see the world.

“All language proceeds as a system of navigation. Named things are fixed points aligned or compared, which allow the speaker to plot the next move”

Bruce Chatwin

Last Friday, I was exploring the word holistic for something I was writing. 

The first surprise for me was to discover that it is a recent entry in the dictionary. It was coined in 1926 by Jan Christian Smuts, a South African soldier and statesman with a passion for natural science. He defined holism as the “tendency in nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts through creative evolution.”

From there, the words holism and holistic took over, and are now commonly used.

Smuts derived holism from the Greek word holos, meaning “whole”, probably attracted by the similar sound. Yet, apparently, the two words have no etymological connection.

In fact, the word “whole” originated from the Middle English hool. 

So what?

The Greek word holos derives from the Proto-Indo-European root sol-, meaning “whole, well-kept.” From the same root, derive the Latin salvus, “uninjured, in good health, safe” and salus meaning “good health”.

Following this path, it is clear that for our ancestors being healthy meant to be whole. 

What I find fascinating is that the word “whole” shares the same root, the Proto-Indo-European *kailo-, with the word “health”. Again, the same connection transpires.

In all languages, there is a strong connection between being whole and being healthy. Something we should remind ourselves more often.

One Apple A Day #866 – Vitality

Do you know someone who has some much life and energy in them that they couldn’t hold it inside? Those people full of enthusiasm, who always have an idea, a project, the need for something to do.

I know a few, and they are a gift.

Sometimes they may be exhausting to deal with, but their vitality is contagious.

In my dialect, we have a word for this kind of state; morbin.

We say that someone has the “morbin” when they are restless, exuberant. It is used with both a positive and negative meaning. 

This word doesn’t have an equivalent in Italian.

It is fascinating how different languages have specific words for things or concepts absent in other idioms. Every community or tribe creates the words they need to navigate reality efficiently. 

Companies are not different, they also have their unique vocabulary.

Language is an essential pillar of every culture. 

Thinks about the words you use more often in the team, company, family, or community you are part of. What do they say about your tribe?

“All language proceeds as a system of navigation. Named things are fixed points aligned or compared, which allow the speaker to plot the next move.”

Bruce Chatwin

One Apple A Day #831 – Wisdom

This morning I want to start a little new challenge. A few months ago, I bought a set of cards about strengths. They are great in workshops or coaching sessions to identify our strengths so we can use them as levers to create changes in our lives or to solve our challenges.

Unfortunately, due to this pandemic, I haven’t been able to use them properly. Tired of seeing them laying on my desk, I decided to use them differently. For the next days, every morning I’ll pick a card and write about it. There are quite a few cards on the deck, so I think I have enough material for the rest of this crazy year.

Anyway, without farther ado, let’s begin with the first card; wisdom.

The dictionary says that it is the ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgments.

On Wikipedia, they add understanding, common sense and insight to the recipe. And these are three fundamental ingredients because they make quite clear that wisdom is not about knowing a lot.

It’s not the amount of knowledge or experiences that make you wise. It is the ability to sense into what you know and don’t know and source your words, choices and actions from there. 

I think we are wise anytime we remove the duality between sensing and making sense. 

Uh, time flies. I need to use it more wisely next time. 

Let’s close this post with some wisdom from someone wiser than me.

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”

Isaac Asimov

One Apple A Day #807 – my voice

“Raise your words, 

not your voice, 

it’s rain that grows flowers, 

not thunder.” 

Jalal al-Din Rumi

These words keep coming back in different ways and contexts. So, there must be something they are trying to tell me. 

Maybe it is something about my tendency to step back and hold my words to avoid confrontations. I struggle to share my opinion and to speak my truth outside my family. Perhaps because I know that, no matter what, my family will always love me.

Out there, however, it’s different. 

It’s crowded, messy and noisy. 

Many are shouting; some only to cover the voice of others, others just to be heard once. Unfortunately, like with my old stereo, when the volume is too high, the sound comes out distorted, until it’s not music anymore but just noise.

So, maybe this is the invitation that Rumi has for me. 

To make it rain.

To find my voice.

So my words can be heard.

One Apple A Day #786 – a sign of clarity

I love quotes and aphorisms. 

I love Italian hermetic poetry and Japanese Haiku. 

I’m in awe by the ability to pack so much meaning and emotions in just a few words.

It is as if, once we remove all decorations and embellishments, what we are left is the essence of the message.

And each one of those remaining words carries so much meaning, so much power.

In an interview, Mary Oliver said: “[…]if you can say it in a few lines, you’re just decorating for the rest of it. Unless you could — intent makes something more intense, but if you said what you want to say, you’re not going to make it more intense. You’re just going to repeat yourself.”

Yet, it’s not easy. Sometimes I overflow people with words.

I noticed that usually when I am not clear about what I want to communicate, I become verbose. But when I can feel it; when the message is crystal clear in my mind and my heart, then the right words emerge, and no decorations are needed.