With little statistical data, I’ll argue that the most powerful word in the English language is the word “yet”. It is by no means the most featured conjunction; it doesn’t even garner a mention in the song by which all conjunctions claim their fame, “Conjunction Junction”. Nor is it an extremely popular adverb, perhaps because it seems so plain. Maybe people are afraid to use it because it is a bit of a wildcard, shifting from adverb to conjunction. For whatever reason, the word “yet” often is left unused like a board game no one understands.
Yet, I believe that whether we use it as conjunction or adverb, the word “yet” can help us to live into brighter futures. “Yet” is the word of possibility, it describes perfectly the very real and under-represented idea that what has gone before does not have to dictate what will come. When we are children, we see our whole lives ahead of us, we see that we have open possibilities. Somewhere along the way, however, we begin to believe that those possibilities are dwindling and that we are stuck doing what we are doing and being what we have already been.
Bull malarky. In reality, we haven’t figured out what’s next, yet there is definite hope for tomorrow. And we can learn to embrace that hope by increasing our usage of this one little word – “yet”.
For example, take anything you want to do with your life. Maybe it is that deepest heartfelt desire that you are afraid to even share with anyone. You have cared so deeply about this hidden dream that you have feared even to attempt it, least failure be too costly. I know that feeling. And it can get even more complicated; we can allow our inner critic to convince that because we have not started on our dreams up to this point that we will never start on our dreams.
Yet one word can change all that.
I’ve started writing a novel about thirty times. I’ve stopped and started another. I’ve stopped that one and started another. I’ve never finished one, and if I let my inner critic, Little Richard (see here for a bit more explanation on who my Little Richard is), have too much voice I can become convinced I never will. But, even by just shifting the language of my inner dialogue, I can begin to believe that I can behave differently and live differently into the future than the past. It only takes the word “yet”.
So, when I set down to work on whatever novel I’m currently writing or whatever daunting project I’m trying to conquer and the voice of my Little Richard pipes up to say, “You’ve never finished any work of fiction you’ve started.” I’ll just quickly add the word, “yet” – I’ve not finished a work of fiction yet.
But I can finish it. And I’m not alone. All of us can find a brighter way forward. We can finish what we’ve started and/or stop our habits that plague us. All of us can embrace the power of “yet”.
Our past failures and struggles don’t dictate our tomorrows, yet they can help us learn.