The Root Word The Root Word

The Root Word

By Isabella Gillespie

The Root Word The Root Word

Nestled deep into the warm cheek of my living room indulging in the luxury of simplicity - a fire, a bath, wooden floors and high ceilings, food in my belly and a cuppa in my hand; I sit contemplating... contentment.

A kind of rigid, masculinized word whose origins spring from the latin word contentus to its Late Middle English adaptation ‘denoting the payment of a claim’.  

With its modern definition ‘a state of happiness and satisfaction’, its evolution is a stark imprint of our industrialised culture, where our happiness is wholly dependant on our financial rewards.

So in claiming back our right to unreasonable states of bliss; I like to replace the word with its much more telling Sanskrit counterpart Santosha. A word that embodies a fuller sound, lulling the mind deeper, into a state of: grateful, peaceful acceptance of what is, in this moment.

This is the essence that this word seems to guard at its heart.
That is - if you can pass the dragon.

The dragon is the voice that caters to our cultural conditioning, hindering our ability to totally dissolve into peaceful happiness. Whether it be the nagging impulse that there should be something to worry about, that we should be guilty over our success or happiness, our tendency to compare and find a point where we feel ‘if only I had this… then everything would be perfect’. Or, the anticipatory fear (and truth) of the transitory nature of all things, 'this too shall pass'. 

Really, anytime our minds or our society throws a ‘should’ our way; we have an innate responsibility to rebel. Because even if the advice would better our wellbeing, the psychology of the word is belittling in stature and implies that we should place our decisions in the hands of the ‘other’. Whether that be our parents, friends, school system or society at large. Which is ultimately disempowering. We need to learn to tap into the wellspring of intuition and follow our own rhythms.

The lineage of the English language is a newfound point of interest for me. Such as in this case of contentment, every time I sound it I wonder, am I referring to content or contempt?

Which leads me to the thought..

Do we dull our contentment in fear of others contempt?

So, as always when searching for truth, I went back to the root:




1. the feeling that a person or a thing is worthless or beneath consideration.

scorn, disdain, disrespect, deprecation, disparagement, denigration, opprobrium,  odium, obloquy, scornfulness

2. disregard for something that should be considered.

disrespect, disregard, slighting, neglect; contumacy

3. the offence of being disobedient to or disrespectful of a court of law and its officers.

I had originally intended to write about the Tall Poppy Syndrome (article to come) but I found myself on this strange tangent of words. Where I found the interweaving of sounds of these two words intriguingly connected. Let’s humour this dance for a moment.

Happiness, or contentment can be found in feelings of success, on the other side of the coin there is contempt a disrespect; tying back to the Tall Poppy … isn’t cutting people down for growing in their own natural way, towards the height of their greatness; the utmost fusion of this twin drama? That is, the drama of the English language.

I had not intended to go here, down the rabbit hole of literary dissection. But curiosity is clever, it leads you to dark corners so you may shine the light. Here I find the dominos of discovery all lined up in a row... 

Do we really understand what we are saying?

Here in the 21st century, the English language is a compulsive byproduct from our history of imperial dominance where the white folk have conquered & created a whole new psychology of survival with two prerequisites of success (see- root word, contentment): make money, learn english. How is it, that the most ineloquent language became veins of our universal communication, our connection? We inherently lost so much beauty of culture...  or perhaps this is a trigger for my own journey; being on the english speaking, western woman side of the spectrum. It is my own loss of beauty in culture, in language that I feel my own communication and connection is lacking.  

Where did we lose the beauty of words?

Being a poet myself, I am in love with words and languages, even as I condemn English I manage to get lost in the mystery of it. Yet this recent trail of discovery leads me to question whether if I will ever find the true essence of language and therefore the true beauty of the word.

There is a potency on the shoreline where intention and word meet. The edge where magic dwells and the threshold where change sleeps. This is the knowledge that witches were once burned for: the spells, incantations; the power of the word. When we condemned the powerful woman to the pretty one, we obliterated the shared wisdom of the word. It became secularised. Prayer took its place as the Patriarchy carved its throne, and the power of the word remained; yet hidden under the cloak of religion. We still see it today in faith healers who live their days curing the incurable through their words and the belief in their words. Proving their god through immunity to poisonous snakes, yet are they truly proving the power of their belief, the power of the word? Everything we infuse with belief becomes powerful. Whatever that belief may be.

Words are alive.

The Sanskrit language is the epitome of this concept. Sanskrit literally means ‘entirely done’, the words themselves are said to match the exact vibration or frequency of the material object of which they speak of. So the origin of the language matches nature itself, using the word to conjure and create from thin air into material form.

Or if we look at the poetic science of Dr Masaru’s Emoto’s water experiments we can visually see the effect of words upon our surrounds. To sum up, this entire train of thought is like a gravitational pull back towards the root. Our human history, the unseen forces and unexplored mysteries underlying our everyday life. The language of life itself. 

Or in his words:

There are approximately 7 billion people exist on this Earth now. I think there is one common standard we share although our skin colors, languages, religious beliefs may be different. I think that is the standard of “beauty”.

However, the deep pursuit of beauty is slightly different depending on experience, age, and personality. That is why many types of wonderful artists who pursue the secrets of beauty always appear in the human history one after another.  

Therefore, the photograph of crystals is neither science nor religion. I hope it is enjoyed as a new type of art. Nevertheless, the world it shows is truth, and there is no doubt that many messages essential to our lives are hidden in it. These images are the geometrical structure that water takes on when frozen, each has been subjected to the influence of a word...

Masaru Emoto


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