The word for the week is divert. Thank you Liz, who chose the word and suggested it over a week ago. I wrote it down in green highlighter and, alas, was diverted from my literary intent.
Ironically, much of my experience lately converges on this word that defies convergence. Merriam-Webster defines divert like this:
1) To turn aside (deviate)
2) a. To turn from one course or use to another (deflect, distract)
b. To give pleasure to especially by distracting the attention from what burdens or distresses.
Diversion, in both senses – the distraction and the enjoyment – has defined the last week or so of my life. I like to plan. I like following the plan. And somehow, lately all I do is leave the plan and turn from one course to another.
Granted, it’s often my fault. Like yesterday morning, when I ignored the screaming alarm clock and closed my eyes for another two hours, then started my day with full sunshine and feeble attempts to follow the to-do list I’d outlined last night on a notepad. Run. Email Hailey. Pick up prescription. Homework. Write to Michelle. Write Hope blog post for this week. Send photo for directory to Philadelphia Center. Buy chemistry book. Make peach cobbler.
Here’s what I really did: I ate a raspberry crepe, read random articles on the internet for a few hours, banged on the piano, tie-dyed a t-shirt, drove to the grocery store, and baked four dozen cupcakes.
Not exactly what I’d planned.
I’m infamous for my ability to divert. Sometimes it frustrates me. Other times it’s fun. I walk into the library intending to get C.S. Lewis and Warren Berry and come out with John Steinbeck in large print, a narrative of an atheist’s conversion, and a book of Spanish inspirational readings. Or when Ming’s Garden is closed and I was really hoping for wonton soup, we go to Peony’s China Bistro instead for the full lunch buffet (Ming’s didn’t have a lunch buffet, so it was a diversion for the better). Adaptability is possible on the road of divergence.
But sometimes it’s too hard to adapt. Even though the word divert can imply a pleasurable change in direction, a surprise turn of sorts, some of us have trouble making the 180. That first plan is to my left, and as I’m yanked right, I can’t take my eyes off Plan A. Why not? Loosen up, Brooke! Enjoy life and its diversions! Go with the flow, I tell myself.
Last Friday night when I breezed in the door twenty minutes before company was slotted to arrive for a bonfire (not my fault), it was not a pleasant change in plans when friends ring the doorbell ten minutes early. I had barely flung the hot dogs and marshmallows on a tray. I had bad breath. And I couldn’t find matches, or roasting sticks, or camping chairs, or my amiable hostess face.
Of course, my company couldn’t care less. They walked in to the disaster zone kitchen and perched at the bar stools. They had brought cupcakes. They were perfectly content. Adaptable. Able to divert as I huffed and puffed and threw water bottles in a pail and tried to forget my plan to light candles in glass lanterns around the backyard and clean the bathroom.
Sometimes I just want to shove divert down a hole. Socialize with follow through, intention, complete. No matter how boring. I want to cross off the list, stick to the route, follow the plan.
But maybe there’s a lesson to learn here from word origins. However unorthodox and impulsive this word is, it has stuck to the plan of its definition throughout centuries. Divert comes from the 15th century, from Middle English, the Middle French verb divirtir, and the Latin verb divertere . It meant to turn in opposite directions.
It still does.
I wonder today if the Spanish verb divertir is also related. Divertir is to enjoy, amuse, or entertain. If diversion is supposed to make you smile, laugh, and say, “what the heck, let’s eat the whole pint!” then maybe it’s a word we need. Maybe life is too wrapped up in expectations and order. Room has to be allowed to let diversion bump its way in and interrupt our day.
Now, please divert your attention from this blog. Let yourself be diverted.
(Suggestion: sunshine, sand, and poetry. Do it.)