ish


“Ish” gets it.

I adore this informal suffix. It’s wonderfully noncommittal. Humanity is complicated and messy, yet we have an inherent desire to categorize it. This isn’t our fault, though it might be a tad foolish. “Ish” can serve as a gentle reminder that surface titles are just that — the surface.

I remember a piece of wisdom that compared voting to public transportation. You should vote for the politician whose policies and values most closely align with your own. Don’t wait around for a person to fill the shoes of your imagined, perfect candidate. Just like you hop on the bus that’s headed in the general direction of your destination. You don’t expect to be dropped off at the front door.

I want to weigh this comparison against all of my social identities! I pick the one that most closely aligns with how I feel, but that certainly doesn’t mean I’m set and secure in the assumptions the label might attract!

So I started adding “ish” to the end.
I’m not a liberal. I’m liberalish. I’m not a vegan. I’m veganish.

I also involve myself in practices that are in direct contradiction to these labels. Such as the fact that I am —drumroll please— a hunter. I kill and eat wild game, and I have a very compelling argument for why that still aligns with my veganish values. I execute the hunting of said animals with a gun. Not exactly a piece of equipment your typical liberal is on board with.

Meaning, I can’t quite squeeze myself into the unyielding shape of a strict vegan or a strict liberal. Yet they are the busses heading in the general direction of my destination; a more progressive and accepting future, where we humans practice awareness and make conscious choices that take into account the needs of both our fellow humans and the planet we inhabit.

I’m currently examining my relationship with booze, and, in the meantime, I’m soberish. Soberishism is going well, I say as I sip a blood orange flavored San Pellegrino sparkling beverage, thinking it would make a great mixer for vodka. So soberishism is going wellish. Welcome to my Pigish Latin.

Existing somewhere in between two identifiers is not a new concept, and it’s certainly not one that’s unique to me. It’s the reason we have words like “spiritual” and “agnostic.” They are helpful for those of us who worship in the realm between nihilism and organized religion. And they are magnificent! First cousins of “ish,” perhaps. But sometimes, even the more open ended choice isn’t open ended enough.

I’ve always been attracted to men and women, but I’ve never quite felt comfortable with the term “bisexual.” I’ve used both “straightish” and “gayish” in conversation. But I mostly feel that something as magical and limitless as human sexuality should be respected as too sacred for titles at all. 

Someone I admire once called themselves “a walking contradiction.” I just loved that. I guess I’m a walking question mark? Always saving room to expand or change my mind. I am allowed to be fluid, to be open, to change course and to question. “Ish” grants me that permission. Hm… “perm-ish-sion?” Okay now I’m taking this too far. The point is this: There is no room for radicalism here in my brain. I simply don’t see how that helps us grow.

That’s what these three fabulous letters are for. A shield to deflect certainty. A nod to depth. An open invitation to growth. A bus in a general direction. As long as the bus is in motion, I’ll be satishfied.

I’ll stop PUN-ISH-ing (a twofer!) you now.

Yours in seriously not taking ourselves too seriously,

Tess

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