I don’t know what I’m doing. Time keeps passing and the questions mount without any clear answers. Percolate. I hold this word close to me, remembering its significance, turning it over and playing with it like a smooth rock in the palm of my hand. Some words, for whatever reason become personal mantras to be recited again and again when I am lost or confused, spoken out loud when I am scared. These words lead to new experiences and growth. They challenge me to accept the present moment and to look forward to the future with patient hope. They bring me comfort and joy, not because of what they mean, but because of what they mean to me.
Percolate is one of those words. The true definition of the word percolate is scientific in nature, but for me it is purely emotional. This word reminds me of the old-fashioned percolator my Dad bought for a camping trip just for the two of us. I think of it and I can still smell the bacon that accompanied a steaming hot pot of grainy coffee and sharing those special moments with him.
Hiking the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina, 2013
This word reminds me to take a breath and to be patient with myself. When something is percolating it is a slow and subtle shift. This change takes place underneath the surface, below our conscious awareness. It is a process that can appear stale and passive, yet it’s full of energy and transformation. I come back to this word when I’m in a foreign country and I have no idea where I’m going or what I’m doing next week. I say this word out loud when I’m frustrated with a situation that seems stagnant and immovable. I repeat it to myself when I have changed my circumstances only to wake up and see the same face in the mirror. Different place, same habits, same old me. Percolate is synonymous with patience and quiet anticipation. It is the hopeful expectation of something good that only needs a few more moments to achieve the perfect brew.
Meterse is another one of my words. In Spanish it means to fully immerse yourself in something, or to “put in.” This verb is often used when talking about going swimming to describe getting in “all the way.” Whenever I am letting my insecurities or doubts get in the way of experiencing something to the fullest potential I think of meterse. Being a commitment phobe, I love the image of completely immersing yourself in something without the possibility of turning back. I think of diving into a pool of water and getting soaked, no chance of remaining dry or untouched. I remind myself to meterme when I feel intimidated and overwhelmed by learning a new language (anyone tried to pronounce French lately? Where do they put all of those extra consonants)? I use this word reassuringly when I think I have perhaps gone too far and can’t turn back from quitting my job and leaving my home. I use it to coax myself into trying new things without hesitation when what I really want to do is run in the opposite direction (especially when it comes to eating guinea pig or repelling backwards down a waterfall).The other half of this guinea pig still had a face! Ecuador, 2012
Meterse. “Dig in, get soaking wet, don’t hold back. Experience this to the max,” I remind myself every time I feel incompetent or in over my head. “It’s okay, this is where you’re supposed to be.”Enjoying the beachfront view in San Blas, Mexico 2013
Aufkeimen is a new word that has found its way into my vocabulary and into my heart. It’s a German word that combines the emotional feeling of percolate and meterse perfectly. It is a word I just learned from a dear friend I met while in France. It’s a word I never would’ve discovered if I hadn’t already been living my personal mantras and pursuing my dream of traveling the world.
Eating dinner with a new international family of Workawayers in France, 2013
Aufkeimen describes the moment right before a plant bursts through the hard ground and sprouts into new life. It’s a romantic word full of optimism and struggle. It’s the end of one phase of growth and the beginning of another. It’s the quiet, dormant stage of life emerging into the light and with this new awakening asking for more. More sunlight, more wind and rain, more life. This is what I hope for you. Aufkeimen.
What are your favorite words or mantras that keep you on track when you’re feeling lost or need encouragement?