7.11.2023 – place the accent on

place the accent on
wrong letter, you’re going to
mispronounce the word

New York City Mayor Eric Adams was quoted in the article, Eric Adams, the Mayor Who Never Sleeps, by columnist Maureen O’Dowd in this passage:

“If you place the accent on the wrong letter, you’re going to mispronounce the word,” Adams said. “If you place the accent on the wrong moment in your life, you’re going to mispronounce your life. Place it on how many times you got on the train and nothing happened to you. Nothing eventful. That’s where the accent should go, not ‘Hey, this is my 900th ride and you know what, I saw a homeless person today. Oh my God, things are out of control.’ They’re not.”

I spent 20 years working in television news.

Working with a dedicated bunch of people who worked daily, hourly, to identify the accent marks that would mark the moments in peoples lives that would set the pronunciation of those lives.

It struck me, reading this quote, that a word gets one point, one part of a word, that is accented.

As the Mayor said, where that accent goes, can determine the meaning of the word.

Where the accent goes can determine the meaning of your life?

Simplistic?

Yes.

Too simplistic?

I am not so sure.

Right now it is hard to not point a finger at covid and say this is where the accent is in my life.

At least, in my life right now.

Over the years, where is that accent?

Do I choose the place or was the place chosen for me and all other changes and consequences in my life descend from that point?

I think I have told the story of how I wanted to be history teacher.

In college, working with an advisor, I had my course of study from a BA through to an MA all laid out.

I needed a foreign language and after three years of high school Latin, my advisor agreed that Latin was the path for me.

On the first day of college Latin 101, I had to fill out an index card with my name and overview of my Latin background.

The second day, someone from the Latin department stood if front of the class and read out six names, mine included and asked us to step out in the hall.

We were told that after a review of our cards, we were being offered an accelerated version of Latin 101 and 102 which would enable us to meet our 2 years of foreign language requirement in just one and a half years.

It was just an offer and we did not have to take but it would allow us to take another elective should we take the accelerated class.

Without thinking too much about, I took the offer.

The impact was far reaching as this knocked over the house of cards that was my carefully scripted course of study to an MA and it brought about this and that and another thing and in the end I spent 20 years working in the news business instead of a career in teaching history.

Is it that moment when my name was read out loud in a classroom in Angell Hall in Ann Arbor, Michigan and I was asked to step out in the hall the place in my life where the accent mark goes?

My life certainly changed.

I took another path.

A path less traveled on a snowy night with miles to go before I could sleep.

But I didn’t know it at the time.

Much more would happen in my life.

Still, the question remains, was that moment in the hall the place in my life where the accent mark goes?

I guess, only if I want it to.

Maybe really, in the long run, the long view, I stepped out into that hall and nothing happened to me.

Nothing eventful.

Things did not go out of control.

Things were not out of control.

Because they were not.

Nothing happened at all.

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