I’m very excited to again this week join a talented group of women who connect each Friday in an online, unedited flash mob free write based on a one-word prompt from our fearless leader Kate Motaung. My timer is set for 5 minutes; let’s see where the word “definition” takes me.

Definitions are important to me. Important in almost every area of my life.

Sometimes my passion for definitions is a positive trait; in some cases, it isn’t. And, as often is the case, whether it is a good thing or bad depends on the other person or people in my at-the-time situation.

The definition of words is key to me in my career as an English teacher. In that role, the vast majority of the time I can be found in a classroom talking with students or in my office conferencing with a single student or responding to student-written texts of one kind or another. In each situation, words and their usage and meaning are the basis of almost everything I focus on.

Some students appreciate my passion for words and for how all writers — professional and student — use words to create images and persuade others and share with the world their thoughts and ideas in ways that will resonate with their readers. 

Some students do not. They just want to know what they have to do in order to pass, and they simply do not see the connection with words and their accomplishment (or lack of) in communicating clearly with their audience. Words and definitions are not as important to them as they are to me.

This passion for words and their meaning and their power have led me to be a lifelong writer. Journals, short stories, this blog, an in-progress novel . . . words and their precise definitions are the foundation for everything I compose.

But sometimes my passion for definitions is a trait I attempt to quash. Sadly, I sometimes don’t even attempt to redirect my thoughts but instead let them run rampant.

There are the times that I attempt to define people. People I know well, new acquaintances, and individuals and groups that I view from a distance. Without thinking, I often define them based on the fragments of information I quickly collect, often not stopping to that those snippets can in now way define that individual or group. 

And, all too often, I have and continue to define myself according to my role in other people’s lives, what others think of me, of my momentary or long-term successes and failures, and other criteria that simply isn’t credible or reliable. 

I know by what and Who I should define myself. But all-too-often I fail to do that.

I ran out of time here but wanted to add that I feel we all do that at some point or another. Some people quickly reorient their thinking and their assessment; others struggle with that. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts and hope you’ll share via a comment. I long for this blog to become less a monologue and more a conversation. I hope you’ll help make that happen.