I love words, I love the way they sound, how they roll off our tongues, the images they play in our heads and the feelings they bring forth. I find it endlessly intriguing how some words evoke happiness, hatred or disdain while others sadness or a heaviness in our being, in our depths, in our souls.

I wonder why words hold that type of influence over us. I wonder about why we hear a word and assume the negative or the impossible instead of the potential or the positive.

A couple of recent experiences really brought this to the forefront for me. The first experience was work related and the word was ‘perfect’. The buzz phrase was “perfect implementation”. I admit I immediately went to the stupidity of the phrase, the impossibility, the burden of perfect implementation. I emphatically stated that if perfect implementation is what was wanted then give us the tools to do it perfectly.

BAM, annoyed, angry, irritated, exasperated!

I sat there mired in my disdain when another person around the table laughed and said, “Isn’t that interesting! You are thinking of perfect implementation as flawless, precise and exact while I am thinking of a moving target, of progression, of checks and balances, of adjustments and of honing in.”

WTF?  ‘Perfect’ implementation or ‘perfect’ implementation? Could that phrase possibly mean two different things? My immediate desire to smack this person for speaking such nonsense was met squarely with an epiphany.

Is my thinking so distorted that I immediately go to the negative?

I was shocked at the ferocity of desire to hold onto MY definition and dismiss the Pollyanna version of my colleague, chalking it up to her happy, go lucky demeanor. Ok, seriously, when the hell did happy become my enemy?

I processed this over the next few days while trying to remain open despite thinking my colleague was not only wrong but tiring and stupid. Pretty open, right?

The universe always gives me what I need to learn but it is up to me to pay attention, so it quickly followed the first lesson with another.

The next experience was around the word, irrelevant. 

What bubbles to the surface for you when you hear, read or say irrelevant? The dictionary says, “not relevant, not applicable or pertinent or, as it relates to law, having no probative value upon any issue in the case.”

Does that definition change when irrelevant is how you feel?

A friend of mine was sharing her experience of a work interaction that left her feeling as though her education and years of experience were not valued, that she had somehow become irrelevant. She felt as though she was no longer needed, she had become invisible, unimportant; she entered into the ‘has been’ category. It was almost as if I could visualize a condescending pat on her head and hear her feet shuffling her into a corner to sit, wait and watch life go by.

That got me to wondering, did becoming irrelevant necessarily equate into a negative? Perhaps instead of shuffling feet there should be skipping. What if irrelevance was your reward for all your hard work, your energy, your dedication? What if irrelevance was a get out of jail for free card?

Our food has a best before date, maybe we do too and maybe that is not such a bad thing.

Take a tomato, starts off small, grows, reaches for the sun, ripens on the vine, goes to the counter and is then used in a mouth watering marinara. If it were to remain on vine, still striving for more ‘ripeness’, it would be past its best before date and we would pass it over on our quest for a ripe tomato. Ok, I get it, you are not a tomato but still the point is valid.

As a former athlete, I am very familiar with the ‘aging out’ concept of sports. I suspect we all know of someone, professional or not, that just needs to hang it up but keeps going into chronic injuries and a pain filled body. They keep pushing and fighting their inner demons instead of accepting that they have had their day.

Let’s be honest, we are all going to age out at some point, our joints are going to get sore, our memories are going to fail, and we will slow down. We can either do that with grace recognizing the reward and gift or we can fight all the way.

What would happen if we changed our relationship with irrelevance, if we just accepted irrelevance as the reward? No more fighting for recognition or promotions, no more clawing, kicking, conniving, plotting. Maybe it is time to let those younger than you chase, climb and sacrifice, you have done your time. If you are no longer relevant in the dog eat dog business world that opens up time for you to be relevant in another area of your life, an area that has been eagerly waiting for you and your experience.

You did achieve, you did make a difference and you will make a difference again, just someplace else, let life take you to the next stage.

Maybe irrelevance is like the gold watch at the end of a career – a gift to be treasured. Maybe irrelevance equals FREEDOM, now I like how THAT sounds and feels.

Maybe you should stand up, stand tall and be proud for you are gloriously irrelevant! Hallelujah and AMEN!

DAMN, I love words!