I hate when words I like get stained. By influencers or marketers or – you know who I’m talking about it. The Authentic and Creative army who have something to sell you.
I had this college professor. I couldn’t tell you his name and maybe with the magic of the internet somebody will remember and help me find him. He was, or at least dressed the part, of the Hasidic or Orthodox Jewish tradition.
And he loved words. LOVED them. And classical music. But this is about words. Listening to him felt like I was talking to my English teaching mother (hi Mom) and grandmother (RIP).
This teacher was always asking us, “And, do you know the etymology of that?”
This was still in the pre-smartphone era, where you could google stuff, but only in the library or where you could hook your primitive laptop up to the ethernet.
Which is a way to say, nobody ever knew the etymology of “that” – whatever “that” was, at least in the moment. So he’d tell us. And learning how etymology can help root out the essence of a word, sometimes more than a definition can, really struck me.
So much so that it’s still with me today. Thanks Professor. I hope you went on to do great things (and that you still play the AM/FM radio game of “name that song” late at night or early in the morning when the college stations play classical, jazz, and all that other stuff).
Authentic roughly translates to “principal, genuine.” Note principal here. Even Grammarly thinks it’s wrong. We’re not talking about a principle like a belief, we’re talking about a principal like in charge of a school.
Aut- (an often Auth-) is the prefix for self. Automobile = self-driving. Autobiography = self, life story.
Authentic means self-genuine. Where you’re in charge. Like an author is in charge of the words.
And speaking of words, how about creativity? Creat- is to make. Not to be confused with kreat- which is flesh. But change a letter sometimes and – yeah. That part’s cool too. The suffix -ivity is for the likeness or quality of. Here, creativity is the likeness or quality of the act of making.
Now consider your (I will not vomit in my mouth when I write this because… oh hell, I already have)
You, yourself, in control of the essence of the making process.
Just you. Your fingerprints. Perfectly staining every square inch of the damn thing.
There, I said it:
I can think of no higher calling than to be authentically creative.