Walking in the Wind for Fun

I stumbled upon this word in a magazine this morning and had no idea how apropos it would be.

The word is uitwaaien. It is (according to the magazine) pronounced “out-vee-en” and it is Dutch for “to walk in the wind for fun”.

I thought it was a funny sounding word, a fun word with a happy thought behind it, so I made it my Word of the Day. I latch onto certain words sometimes when they strike me as ironic or delightful or thought-provoking. Today, it would be uitwaaien.

My office lately has been a marsh of uncertainty. I know marshes, so I’ve determined that this is a very fitting analogy for the work atmosphere over the summer and now into fall.

Just as marshes have spots of solid ground and spots of soft ground that blend together and often look the same, tricking you into sinking up to your knickers and sucking off your shoes, my office has had moments of solid ground and moments of sucking muck.

Decisions that should have been made months ago were put off, exacerbating bad situations and causing morale to crumble and blow away like peat oxidizes when it’s exposed to air after being at the bottom of the marsh for decades. Now, with the new fiscal year beckoning, those hard decisions are finally being made and acted upon. This means that people – people who both deserve it and don’t – are being laid off, or having their hours reduced, and everyone is walking around on eggshells trying not to get their shoes sucked off. The people who have suspected they were going to have to go have behaved badly – they took unstable ground and turned it into sucking mud with half-truths and hubris, hurting everyone else around them.

Through it all, the person put in charge of all this has handled it pretty gracefully in the face of a lot of static. Today was to be the day the final decisions (for the immediate future) would be made about who was leaving, who was staying and how many hours people would be left with. Stressful to say the least.

So when I came in this morning and saw this person in charge getting ready for the final meeting, I thought I would brighten her day a bit with my silly Word of the Day. Something very unexpected happened.

She was delighted with the word, and it evoked a memory she had of herself and a couple of friends a few years ago standing out in a sudden, windy warm snap in January in Maryland. All three “grown women” were leaning into the wind, letting it hold them up. I said, “Just goes to show you: there are forces out there that will hold you up when you need them.” She seemed very appreciative of that.

Think I’ll go uitwaaien this weekend…


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