Sometimes (I mean often) I’m a geek for etymology. If I get a word stuck in my head, which happens frequently, the way I start gnawing on it from every angle, mining it for every meaning, is almost compulsive. This week, the word I was considering was “consider,” which was kind of funny. Also “considerate” and “consideration.”
At first it was kind of bugging me (what sent me off on this head-trip to begin with) — the thought that we tend to use these words quite differently. Not so much a different meanings, really, because the derivations do appear clearly to stem from the same general idea of “to think about” something. To consider = to think about. To be considerate = to think about others. To have considerations = to have things that need to be thought about. That much seemed fairly obvious. It’s more a difference of tone.
Because while to be considerate seems like a really good thing, to have considerations is mostly sort of annoying.
Being considerate is viewed, pretty unequivocally, as a positive quality. Most of us really appreciate considerate people, thoughtful people. If only more people were more considerate, right? And it’s not just that we want others to be that way; I think most of us like to be thought considerate, ourselves.
But then, on the other hand, all those considerations… Well, they can be a total drag.
I mean, when I find myself having too many considerations — ugh. Consider the cost, consider the time, consider the amount of effort it’s going to take… These are the sort of thoughts that keep me up tossing and turning all night, and make it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Considerations can be a stall tactic, a prevarication, a procrastination. They can be a hyperactive “on the other hand” mentality that leads to a gazillion idle other hands, never getting anything done. Too many considerations, even kindly ones, will stall out and shut down even the best ideas.
As Hamlet said:
And thus the native hue of resolution
is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
and enterprises of great pith and moment
with this regard their currents turn awry,
and lose the name of action.
Granted, Hamlet was considering himself out of suicide, so maybe his isn’t the very best example for how tedious and half-hearted over-consideration can be.
What I mean is: usually my version of “to be or not to be” is more about considering all the reasons why I can’t be, do, or have the things that I want for myself, my life, and the world. For every bold notion, I’ve got a dozen considerations to thwart it. So I find myself working against consideration, talking myself out of all my disabling considerations. Productivity is just about my favorite thing in the world, and considerations can seem like the enemy of getting shit done. So, as Shakespeare might say: Fie on thee, considerations! Get thyself to a nunnery, or anyplace other than my anxious brain.
So — back to etymology. I looked up “consider.” Unsurprisingly, it does come from a sense of looking closely at something, watching, observing. What was really interesting, though, was what was being watched and observed. It’s from the Latin considerare — originally meaning “to observe the stars.” Watching the stars, whether for navigation or astrological purposes (the word probably referred to both), for me puts a spin on it that’s quite removed from our contemporary usage.
To be considerate maybe isn’t so much about being nice, or thoughtful like someone who always remembers to send a birthday card or bring a casserole to the homebound. More, it’s about navigating the world and people in it by a sense of our deep connection to each other.
And having considerations, rather than hobbling us with option-paralysis in the face of potential pitfalls and consequences in every move, can be more about a sense of heavenly guidance. If we observe carefully, we are perpetually guided by the stars.
Like so much, like practically everything, it comes down to relationship — how we see ourselves in relationship to It. To navigate powerfully and effectively, we must practice considering ourselves and each other aligned, harmonious, auspiciously positioned, mutually creative and activating.
To consider all things can be an embrace of the intricate pattern to it all, the luminous web that includes each of us and everything, God. All things considered, that seems like a good plan. All things considered, that’s an invitation.
I can’t wait to see you this Sunday, July 21. Service at 10 am. XO, Drew
© 2019 Drew Groves