Friday, April 21, 2023

Friday Ramble - Radical

This week's word is radical, a natural choice for this madcap season when greenery is popping up all over the place. It comes to us through the Late Latin rādīcālis meaning having roots, and the Old English wrotan meaning to root, gnaw or dig up, both entities originating in the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) wrad meaning branch or root. 

Synonyms for this week's word include: fundamental, basic, basal, bottom, cardinal, constitutional, deep-seated, essential, foundational, inherent, innate, intrinsic, native, natural, organic, original, primal, primary, primitive, profound, thoroughgoing, underlying, vital. They also include pejorative words such as anarchistic, chaotic, excessive, extremist, fanatical, far-out, freethinking, iconoclastic, immoderate, insubordinate, insurgent, insurrectionary, intransigent, lawless, left wing, militant, mutinous, nihilistic, rabid, rebellious, recalcitrant, recusant, refractory, restive, revolutionary, riotous, seditious, severe, sweeping, uncompromising and violent.

Those who live by different beliefs are often called "radical". Ditto those who live outside the mainstream or "off the grid", who don't follow accepted social standards and tend to do their own thing rather than placidly following the herd along sheepishly. The word has been used in that context since the sixties, and being called "radical" might have been a compliment then, but these days it is often pejorative.

I am always taken by the way Nature's fertile progeny manage to put down roots and come up in all sorts of unlikely places. One expects to find seedlings in garden plots, lawns, village greens and fields. In stumps, fence rails, sidewalks, concrete walls and busy highways, not so much, but there they are. Their roots go deep into the earth, their tender shoots reach for the light, and the youngsters are not the slightest bit befuddled by the darkness in which they begin their journey. They always get it right. 

How odd that a word used to describe the independent, unconventional, mildly eccentric and downright peculiar actually means something as lovely, organic and simple as "rooted". Do I consider myself radical? Anyone who writes, paints, sketches, takes heaps of bad photos, rambles in the woods in all sorts of weather, sits on logs looking at the sky for hours and talks with trees is a tad peculiar, so I suppose I am.

This week's word simply means being rooted, connected or "in tune", and it is one of my favorites in the English language. It signifies (for me anyway) a bone deep kinship with everything that matters, with the good dark earth under my feet, the sky, the sun and the moon, the stars over my head - with timeless notions of rebirth, transformation, belonging and non-duality. Roots down, branches up and away we go...

1 comment:

Gill said...