Actually, the word actually drives me crazy. It must be the most popular word of 2009-2010. Radio and TV commentators say it; my friends say it; and I say it. We polka-dot every other sentence with the word. “Actually, we weren’t in town last weekend.” “We actually spent more money on our dogs’ medical care than our children’s last year.” By adding an actually, are we trying to give the information more credibility or authority? “I actually read 100 books last year.” If I left off the actually from my statement, would others be less likely to believe me?
Actually actually grates on my ears when I hear it. An aural cringe shudders through my Eustachian tubes. The use of actually makes me understand how contagious words are, how quickly I become a verbal lemming and follow the latest fad in jargon. But more than my awareness of the frequency of actually, I notice what a cranky, judgmental person I can be. Why should the overuse of a word make me so irritable?
So for a post-Lenten or maybe Easter discipline and behavior-modification exercise, I’m actually going to try something different. Every time I hear the word actually, I ‘m going to say to myself. “Thank you.” I’ll use actually as a prod for prayer, as a way to follow 1Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (NRSV). I hope I can actually pull this off.
Sybil MacBeth ©2010