Word of the Year Photo

Conspire: My Word for the Year

Kristina Campbell, January 2018

Wow, did I ever just go on a long trip down a rabbit hole. This afternoon I decided to do some intentional writing, as opposed to the accidental, stream of consciousness writing that I usually do. I wasn’t sure what to write about until I noticed a lot of people picking their word for the year on Facebook. That’s what I’ll do! I will write about my word for the year. Excellent idea! Problem … I don’t have a word for the year. Darn!

Sooo … out come the coloured pens and the post-its. For the next half hour I am scribbling words on post-its and just slapping them up on the wall, as fast as I can, while asking myself, “What’s important to me? What do I value? What do I want more of in my life? What do I still want to do before I die?”

I end up with 83 potentials for Word of the Year. I remove the 7 duplicates. I sort by category, looking for themes. I pare it down to the ‘being’ words that I want to permeate my entire existence, as opposed to the ‘doing’ words, i.e. exercise, answer emails, purge my office. The results, in no particular order: loving, tenderness, compassion, challenge, diligence, integrity, sexy, rest, ease, delight, exploring, inspiring. Sorry, apparently there is an order, save the best for last. Inspiring. I love that word.

Hmpf. Does the word inspiring motivate me to have an inspiring year? It feels a bit lame somehow … and I’m not sure why. I like inspiration. I thrive on enthusiastic energy and creative expression; ideas that are tightly intertwined with my idea of inspiration. I think I’m actually already pretty good at inspiring myself.

And then I remember a beautiful word Elfi Dillon-Shaw taught me about … conspire! Spirare means to breathe, also the root of the word spirit, the prefix con meaning with. The Latin roots of the word conspire literally means to breathe together. The negative meaning of conspiracy, as in theory, is only since the 20th century. The original definition of conspire means to act or work in harmony with another to achieve a common goal. Synonyms: concur, co-operate, and collaborate. Now there’s a word that I can get inspired about.

Conspire! There’s my word for 2018. Excellent work Kristina. Then I got the bright idea that I should see if I could find an inspiring quote that uses the word conspire. I found three that were particularly meaningful to me:

“Life is about choices and hovering in the middle can be extremely frightening. Remember, once you make a decision the Universe will conspire to make it happen … but you must choose.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Heaven and Earth conspire that everything which has been, be rooted and reduced to dust. Only the dreamers, who dream while awake, call back the shadows of the past and braid nets from the unspun thread.” Isaac Bashevis Singer

I particularly liked the chastising quality of this last uncredited quote:

“The Universe did not conspire to create you from planets and stardust so you could live a life chasing after material things.”

The thing that I get particularly excited about when I contemplate the word Conspire is the fact that it takes two; two to breathe together, seeing the value in two. The Hawaiians call the breath of life Ha. I remember Gary Dillon teaching me how the Hawaiians share breath, putting their foreheads and the bridges of their noses together and breathing in unison. They believe that the breath contains Mana, spiritual power. To breathe together is to share Mana.

As I continued my on-line search, one click leading to the next, I discovered that the roots of the many great world religions include the idea that breath is life, breath is God, God is breath, and breath creates and sustains life. Beyond the purely physiological need for breath, Christian, Buddhist, Judaism, Hindu, Taoist, Muslim, Sufi, each of these traditions includes the importance of breath for spiritual sustenance.

I stumbled onto a conference in the United States called Conspire. Ken Wilber spoke at it in 2017 so that gave it some extra street cred for me. Digging more deeply into the website I learned the word orthopraxy. I was familiar with the word orthodoxy, but had never heard of orthopraxy. Essentially orthodoxy is based on the idea of correct beliefs, thoughts and words, whereas orthopraxy is the expression of correct conduct, action and practise.

“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” Richard Rohr et al.

This quote, with multiple attributions, summed it up nicely for me. While on this site I also discovered a book which I have bought, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry by Jack Kornfield. I am imaging it is a Chop Wood, Carry Water kind of book, the reviews looked promising.

I then wondered if there were any songs with the word Conspire that I could use as an anthem for my year. I found an awesome site, lyrics.com, that listed 493 songs that had the word Conspire in them, and started sifting through. Fortunately, about 492 of them were all the different versions of Winter Wonderland recorded by pretty much any artist that has ever published a Christmas album. I’ve just listened to many of them very recently as I conspired by the fire. Roseanne Cash has a lovely country ballad called Change Partners, not really applicable as my theme for the relationship portion of the year is actually find partner, not change partner. I keep sifting through more versions of Winter Wonderland until …

Paydirt! Muse Starlight! This song is on my all-time favourite album for working in the studio. And there it is, in my anthem for the year:

“Let’s conspire to ignite all the souls that would die just to feel alive.”

What I am conspiring to do is to work with, to collaborate; in my romantic life, my creative life, my career life. After years of earning, learning and proving my independence, I am deliciously ready to begin to collaborate to bring my dreams to fruition. I am ready to Conspire! 

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