Oof

“Oof.”

Such a facile word, one rapid syllable. It is supposed to mean “expressing discomfort, surprise, or dismay.” Generally, it also is used to convey a gut-punch or calamity. A recent copyright dispute brought up the previous and singular connotation for the word.

As happens in life, the word transitioned for me without my recognizing it. It was an incremental change until the lever sprung, and it suddenly acquired a different meaning, much in the same way you peer into the eyes of someone you’ve known and see a depth that you’d skirted around unknowingly.

Oof: a sudden emotional reaction, usually characterized by intense pleasure or divination.

The word now carries a paralyzing and gossamer overtone for me.

I’ll ask you to whisper the word internally, in a quiet moment. Find a place, person, or time in your guarded heart of memories and say the word as you vividly remember it. If you pay homage sufficiently, you’ll be able to see “oof” in the same way.

The word is mine now.

It is shorthand for the unuttered but not unfelt contagion of bliss or glimpse of what lies beneath.

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