Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What's in a word?

What's in a word? What does that mean, anyway? Lots of things are in a word. Words evoke emotions in us and can spur us to action or lull us into inaction. ie: emotions and actions such as love, anger, regret, forgiveness, anxiety, excitement, comfort, sorrow, laughter...

A favorite word of mine is "amae". It's a Japanese word (pronounced ah-mah-ay), which means "the expectation to be sweetly and indulgently loved" Is that beautiful or what? And isn't it really what we all wish for?

I came across this expression and the ideas that accompany it years ago in a magazine article. I wish I could remember what magazine. At any rate, the article discussed the way we in America put such a high premium on "independence", how we're taught to strive for the supreme acheievement of being able to stand on our own. Not that that's an entirely bad thing. But, it does close us off somewhat to the possibility of being "sweetly and INDULGENTLY loved". The way a baby is loved, the way we love our babies. The way nearly every woman on the planet dreams of being loved by her husband. The way women so often express love for one another in time tested and time worn friendships.

What's in a word? In the word "amae" I see hope. A vision. A way of loving to aspire to.

I watched my daughter sweetly and induldgently love her husband last night. It was so touching. He had surgery yesterday and was in such pain... he suffers from anxiety and his pain meds made his heart race to the point that his anxiety, coupled with the side effects of Lortab, kept him up all night. She put a cloth to his face, rubbed his shoulders, helped him take deep breaths, repositioned his newly pinned and wired leg on pillows... she spoke softly, played his favorite music for him, and gave up sleeping herself to see him through the night. When she came dragging out of the bedroom this morning, it was to bring him some juice and fresh fruit, to call his doctor for guidance in how she could bring him more comfort....and to mow the lawns so he wouldn't worry about it not getting done while he was laid up.

I've watched the way he sweetly and indulgently loves her since the day they first met. He has been the answer to a mother and father's prayer that their daughter would be protected and cared for throughout her life. They have come to depend on one another for this exchange of tenderness. They each feel precious and cherished. They experience amae in their lives.

So... what's in a word? amae I see fulfillment, security, and contentment.


Brenda Leyland said...

Ohhhhhhhhh Caryn! This was worth waiting for!!!! I loved it!

And what a beautiful word is the Japanese 'amae'. Sometimes I think our English doesn't have enough of the right words, do you?

I want to live that way..... thanks for the beautiful word on how it looks with your own family example!


Mare said...

Halleluia!! I've missed your thoughts and ideas.
I would love to be loved like that! My mom's 2nd marriage [5 years after my father died] was at the age of 62. Maybe there's still hope for me. Until then, Flo gets the amae, and that has its own intrinsic benefits for me, too. Welcome back!

Lin said...

see-you are missed by the many blogger friends who wait and wait so patiently for your next post. very nice. what happened to her hubby? reminds me of my friend susi who slipped and broke her ankle then after a 3 hr surgery to put in 2 pins, she fell again at home and broke her wrist so more surgery, etc. we all need to slooooow down and relax and stop rushing everywhere. see ya soon. wonderful post

Linda Reeder said...

`Lovely post. Reading about your daughter's marriage leads me to examine mine. I think after 40 years we still have it, but we may need to demonstrate it more often.

Jo, a retired teacher said...

So nice to read another of your posts--such lovely ideas and expressions. Your daughter and her hubby seem to deserve each other, just as you and your hubby do.

More people need to read your blog, just to see how things can be.

Patsy said...

Beautiful!! Thanks for putting a happy spot in my heart. All you ever hear these days is how bad things are, this was a wonderful turn around from the norm. Have a blessed day!!!

Cheryl /Ashton said...

I really enjoyed this post and I love the word "amae". Its beautiful. I was touched by your example of your daughter's love for her husband and vice versa. I must say that my husband loves me in that way and for that I am forever grateful. If everyone could experience it how wonderful it would be. However, we can always keep reaching...

Deborah Godin said...

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful word, and the story, too!!

Pat said...

It touched my heart the way your daughter so sweetly and indulgently cared for her husband. What an example for all of us! I tend to be undemonstrative, but you have inspired me to reverse that.

SandyCarlson said...

That lovely word made me think instantly of my wide-eyed daughter with her blanket in hand. It's no wonder the word has the "ma" sound in it.

Lovely, lovely, lovely. Every word is a poem. Or can be.

Kay said...

I loved your post, Caryn. The idea is just beautiful. However, the meaning for amae or amaeru has not exactly the same tone for me. I looked up a meaning on the web and found this:

"English translation:amaeru: acting /treating like a baby
The acts of 'giving' amaeru & 'receiving' amaeru are also distinct.
'giving': babying, spoiling, treating like a child, sucking up to, fawning on, flattering.
'receiving': acting like a baby, being foolishly & unnecessarily dependent, behaving like a spoilt child regardless of age, taking advantage of another's kindness, accepting false praise to make yourself feel better.
It reminds me of seeing drunken middle age salary men in bars with younger, female work colleagues who are speaking in girlish voices, trying to reassure the salarymen about his life, work, prowess etc!"

I think amae does not exactly have an entirely positive feeling in Japanese. When my mom uses it she means somebody is not exactly acting their age but acting dependent like a baby.

I do however, love the idea of the sweetness of love in your post.

SandyCarlson said...

Thanks for stopping by, my friend. Your warm words always warm my heart.

Lynley said...

Twilight should have been named Amae.

I love Jon and Chandi!