Vocab Lesson

I’m reading The New York Times on the couch when I look over at my middle school daughter on the couch who’s reading. She’s in her athletic pants, her hair carefully up in a bun like her friends, her face still tawny from a summer mostly outside. When she’s finished with her chapter, she tosses the library book on the couch, and I ask if she knows what the word anti-Semitic means.

She doesn’t.

The word is so terrible, I’m not sure what to say. In our house, we sometimes joke about language. This week, the girls have been tossing voluminous around playfully, like a half-deflated, helium-filled balloon.

I glance into the dining room I’ve spent all weekend painting a color described as lemon custard, my motivation simply love of color and warmth.

And then I look back at my daughter who’s waiting, patiently, on the couch.

It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life — daily and hourly… Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.

Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

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By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

8 comments

  1. I live in Alabama and I have a bi-racial daughter. And I still remember, vividly, when I had to talk to her about the n word. I can remember how the furniture was arranged and I can remember looking at her sweet innocent 8 year old face and just wanting to cry that I had to explain that hateful, ugly word. That I had to see her face change and some of her innocence and joy die.

  2. My two youngest nieces are bi-racial and their mom is an immigrant. There’s so much hateful rhetoric about immigrants right now and I’m not sure what they absorb but they’re both quite sharp. I make sure to tell them how lucky they are for being bi-lingual and for having a strong connection to another country.

  3. Victor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search For Meaning” is a true masterpiece. One of my top 10 for sure.
    Almost time to reread it!
    Hope all is well!

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