Minding Language (Part Three)

I owe this insight (as I do many others) to L’s Mother.

I had marked a particular date on the house calendar with a red “X” so there was no ambiguity, and the next time I looked it had been changed to a green checkmark.

“Why?” I asked her.

“It seemed overly negative to me,” she replied.

“It’s a deadline,” I retorted. Privately I was thinking, “And it was just an X to mark the spot, and it was red so it was visible! How is that negative?”

She smiled slightly. “It’s a checkpoint, not a deadline.”

Suddenly my irritation at the “pointless” change faded as I saw her point. Any grade-schooler in this and many other countries can tell you that a red “X” isn’t a good thing to see on your paper, and upon reflection I realized that at the time I did mean it as a negative. I meant it as, “past this point things get bad,” and that was a way to look at it.

It just wasn’t the best and most correct way.


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