03 September 2009

Recapturing language III

Somehow, over the years, it seems to me that the context for using the word impress, and its variations has changed. When I was a young girl, I recall hearing this word's use in a near-literal context: making an impression.

As a child makes wax castings from the impressions of animal footprints in the wet earth surrounding a lake, making an impression on another person through the essence of your own humanity is a tangible thing. In this regard, the impression made is a true change. It could perhaps be a change of mood, lifting someone's spirits by exhibiting inspiration. Or, it could be a change of outlook or opinion, validating the strength of an idea through living example. The fact that the vital energy of a person has the potential to leave a mark, or impression, on the life of another is lovely.

All too often, the word impress carries the connotation of instilling envy in another by exhibiting external trappings: what we do or say, what we have, who we know, where we have been. Impressing is so seldom linked to the person.

How would our lives be different if our impressions were guided more through genuine interactions with others and less by peripheral, non-human qualities? What this means to me is that if we take the time to honestly interact with another person and absorb the impact of their spirit and/or share the essence of our own humanity, we can effect change. We can generate ideas, open minds, soothe souls. We can appreciate each other for the innate human decency that we possess; we can both make and receive lasting impressions.

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