5.15.12 “What am I supposed to do, Giles? I mean, words don’t mean anything anymore,” a friend of mine told me at The Whiskey Jar one day after work, somewhere near her wit’s end. She was speaking specifically as a cider maker, wanting to know how she could convey through labeling and marketing that she and her husband grow their apples, press them, blend them, ferment them, and bottle them as golden fizzy liquid. She is an artisan, a craftswoman. But so are, as Lewis Black pointed out on "The Daily Show," the people who thaw the bagels at Dunkin’ Donuts.
In my line of work, I’m sensitive to the suggestion that language is losing its meaning, but the signs are all around me. Forget about advertising. Look at sports, entertainment, and politics, where language is used most often to obscure meaning, to bend it, or to contend with it, and almost never to communicate a matter in its simplest terms. Look deeper and see that we are eroding the standards under the words we put down for posterity, losing, even, our sense of posterity. I am on the lookout, these days, for things that haven’t lost their meaning.
College graduation is one of them. A lifetime of preparation shoots off like a bottle rocket through two weeks of exams and papers, and then all of a sudden your world coalesces with frightening speed, your friends and family standing parade at a moment in life when you feel, perhaps for the last time together, intense satisfaction and, strangely, boredom. You’ve seen everything in the walled garden. Over the next four years of your life, you will lose your naivete– likely already well-insulated, perhaps even jaded–but with this last green piece of it, you’ll celebrate an unambiguous accomplishment before packing up your belongings and heading out on your own.
It’s this kind of threshold in life that calls for a ceremony. We do not have many left. Walking The Lawn is a fine one. –Giles Morris