I have two favourite words. The first is love … well understood by all and sundry. The second is animation. The reaction I usually get to that one is some version of “Huh?” or “You like Disney flicks?” No matter – my joy in the word goes on.
Someone, no doubt wise, said:
“The Latin word anima (meaning breath, soul) that gave us animal, has given us other words. The English adjective animate (meaning alive) comes from the Latin verb animare, meaning to give life to, which in turn comes from anima.”
The dictionary sees animation as the state of being full of life or vigor, and offers these synonyms:
Liveliness, spirit, high spirits, spiritedness, energy, enthusiasm, eagerness, excitement, vigor, vivacity, vivaciousness, vitality, vibrancy, exuberance, ebullience, buoyancy, bounciness, bounce, perkiness, sprightliness, verve, zest, sparkle, dash, elan, brio.
Woh … so many words. But the word itself is true. For decades, I’ve understood that to animate is to breathe life into, to take an ordinary moment and make it vibrate. I think that is a gift of mine – to see the light in an apparently normal second or minute.
The light was with me half an hour ago. I’m in Aeolian Hall, a 135-year-old concert venue in London. A young woman from Montreal has just sung five songs, as the opening act for Martha Wainwright. After five minutes, Amélie Beyries looked at us and said “There are spirits here.” So true. Her voice climbed the heights of tone and soul. Her fingers caressed the piano keys. And just before her last song, she stood at the edge of the stage and cried. “I’ve never experienced a hall like this.” We smiled and loved her.
Amélie had taken us into her heart and shone a light upon us. The time was alive, glowing, vibrating. And we all have the power to do the same – to set others ablaze. Maybe a little smile, a kind word, a hand on the shoulder. We can animate the lives around us simply by being “over there” with them. Then candles can light themselves. Dimmer switches can push themselves up to maximum. Off-white can transform to forest green.
Let’s do it