I love the conversations that I have with my friends. Particularly because they just about never consist of the ever-dreaded small talk, which I myself am awful at completing with much ease.
Recently I was in one such conversation with a friend who works in my building. We had been exchanging thoughts on this documentary that hit both of us deeply in a variety of ways called Chef's Table. It's a beautiful documentary featuring various chefs from around the world with beautiful stories and visions of life, seeing food and all of its elements as an art form, meant to be slowly cultivated and appreciated.
Our conversation took a new turn when she said, "Oh! Have you seen the one about the restaurant in Chicago, Alinea? It's amazing. And actually, the word alinea is a really fitting word for you-- because of what you do and your life story so far. It means 'a new paragraph or sentence' or something like that."
Naturally I went home and watched that episode that night. And it was definitely beautiful, but gosh, that word was just sticking in my brain!
Over the next weeks I thought more and more about that word and its application to my life. Or really, all our lives in some way. An alinea is a common editorial mark, more commonly known as a "pilcrow." It symbolizes the need for a new paragraph in the middle of a story. Okay, so there are two significant reasons why this word is an incredible fit to my life: it's an editorial marking (and I'm an editor), and (this is the part that applies to all of us) it refers to a shift in the story-- not a shift to a completely new topic, like a chapter that's closing-- just a shift baring in mind, and directly referring to, what came prior.
Probably my most recent and substantial alinea was when I got my job as a book editor this last January. I honestly never would have seen that coming. Had you asked me on December 31st what I thought I would be doing the next month, I probably would have shrugged and said, "I dunno" like one of those kids in school who avoids eye contact with the teacher but inevitably gets called on.
But ya'll, barely more than two weeks later I was sitting in a publishing house, editing a big project for the first time ever. Having been one of those people who's usually glued to book pages (but seriously, the smell alone makes me want to write a love song), and who has always been a writer and wanted to write "for real," here I am. My life suddenly taking a huge twist, landing me in the middle of a world that had everything to do with my past and present. A world that seemed out of reach due to the irrelevant subject on my bachelor's degree.
All of us have experienced unforseen alineas in our lives. Whether they came in the form of a job change, a break-up, a move, the passing of someone close to us.... And what I love about that is that it doesn't neglect the previous paragraphs, but only carries the story further. Deeper.
Alinea can associate itself with another word that we all hate: fear. We all carry with us this fear of change. A fear of the unseen.
But there is so much hope. When an alinea inserts itself into the current paragraph of our lives, it can be painful, scary, uncertain... but what it's really doing is progressing forward. Moving us on when it's necessary. Propelling us forward with the growth that has already come before it.
Alinea, to me, means a transition into adventure, a push for growth, a thing to be welcomed upon its occurrence... and something to look back on with great gladness for all that has resulted because of it.