Isolating mid-sentence dangling modifiers
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“Be”: how a word forges a connection to spirituality

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Walking due west, he looked up into the sunset, the golden light of which suffused the clouds on this cold winter’s day. He tucked his hands deeper into the pocket of his jacket. Traffic whizzed by him. He was oblivious to the sound. He walked on. He gazed into the great big ball suspended behind those clouds, as if paring them away with diligent pursuit. He thought about the force of nature that holds the sun in its own unclaimed space and time, and the planet from upon which he was viewing it.

His perspective here on earth was itself the catalyst for his experiencing, in that moment, the majesty of knowing that the same force that keeps this gigantic ball in its orbit is no different than the force that keeps this machine that is his body pumping blood throughout, chamber to chamber, extremity to extremity. This machine kept him breathing, allowing him this opportunity to be walking in the direction of this celestial object, as if to meet up with it, to rendezvous with it like two loyal old friends, for, after all, he and the fireball are one. They are connected by source, him and the sun. And then he realized, in that moment, that he had no question about what keeps the earth turning; what maintains its faithful elliptical orbit around the sun. But he had an answer.

It’s in a word. A simple word.

In English, our verbs are conjugated, which means that their endings change to maintain grammatically in respect of number, person and tense. Think subject-verb agreement. For example, we would not say I are happy. That verb, like all verbs, has a conjugation, which is obligatory to maintain grammatically. Therefore, we must say, I am happy. Think of some other possible conjugations, but those for which we inflect the verb, that is, the word morphs into another to reflect the number of the subject; to reflect whether the subject is a first, second or third person; to reflect whether the tense is present or past, these being the main tenses in English. He laughs. They laugh. Many laugh. Both laugh. I laugh. Either of the boys laughs. (Yes, informally we use a plural verb after either, but formality dictates that inflection upholds this indefinite pronoun as a singular word.)

I have now established a particular norm or regularity in English, namely the conjugation of verbs. But as any speaker of English has not too long after starting to write or speak it realizes, there are exceptions—which are those irregularies. So what about those verbs whose endings don’t change (inflect) to maintain grammaticality? Instead, the word is modified in an irregular way. Hence why they are referred to as irregular verbs: Today I run a race. Yesterday I ran a race. Today I drink wine. Yesterday I drank wine. In these examples, you neither runned* the race or drinked* the wine. You see the pattern. Which now brings me to the verb is.

If someone asked you to define the meaning of is, could you? You may or you may not be able to, so for the purposes of illustration and this article, I will note here that is means to be, which means to subsist or to have existence. The latter is the infinitive form of the word, otherwise known as the uninflected dictionary definition (preceded by to), while the former is the inflected form, conjugated for the first person or the singular personal pronoun, the indefinite pronouns (i.e., it, either, etc.) and the present tense. When to be is conjugated, you get am/are, was/were, and been, as in has/have/had been.

What I hope that I have established so far is the immutable fact that written, and verbal, language is an integral part of communication. But English is a difficult and complex language, what with its idioms, syntax and homonyms. As far as communication is concerned, I hope you will agree that it is not limited to the engagement or two-way flow between you and someone else. Indeed, communication extends to that which we invariably hold with or within ourselves. In fiction writing, which I happen to have an affinity for, this internal communication is called unspoken discourse, which is an internally vocalized thought. You may have come across such thoughts embedded in narration, although marked off from the surrounding text with italics. This is a method that the author may choose to employ to draw your attention (and also prevent confusion as to who is responsible for the thought) to the fact that a thought so expressed is indeed internal but most importantly that it belongs to the focalized or point-of-view character.

I was that point-of-view character, which I took the liberty of writing from the third-person point of view. I was watching that sunset. And that answer I had—for I had realized I had no questions—was the word is. I realized that the sun in its position in the sky; in its rightful place in the Milky Way Galaxy; in its deferential power as a source of light and energy was there, and there by design. It was there. It was just there. In fact, the sun is (I have dispensed with the sequence of tenses rule here because the sun is, and has been, now and forever). Nothing more, nothing less. As the 1998 Lauryn Hill song is titled, Everything Is Everything. The song begins:

Everything is everything

What is meant to be, will be

After winter, must come spring

Change, it comes eventually

Is. Everything is everything. Be. Let everything be everything.

Garie McIntosh

January 30, 2021

Garie McIntosh
Garie McIntosh
Garie started out in administration in the fields of healthcare, project management and database development. Since 2016, he has been working to further develop himself as a fiction writer while working on his grammatical and linguistic pursuits. He considers that storytelling is analogous to communication. Garie writes stories with strong, authentic characters that are defined by strong writing and themes, and he thereby reinforces the power of communication. He has written and published his first novel, What's in a Name. Garie has created and developed McIntoshLinguistics, an educational and grammatical editing business for manuscripts. It offers tools to provide grammatical editing that identifies and/or addresses errors, irregularities or ambiguities in manuscripts.

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