I’ve always loved words. Phrases become lodged in my head like the chorus of a song endued with cadence and tone. My current obsession fell into my ear one day, bouncing up to my mind and tumbling down to my mouth, rolling around syllables and intrigue and promise.
This idea, though, it captivates me as much as the word itself. The opportunity – even the imperative – to cast off what no longer serves. To leave the old behind to have a chance at survival, at new life – to jettison.
The meaning of the word (originally from the Latin “jactare” – to throw) is not a gentle call to action. It is an urgent undertaking in a time of need, i.e. to throw excess cargo off a sinking ship. To cast off things that once were wanted and needed and deemed important but cannot be discarded quickly enough when they are standing in the way of safety.
This definition paints a bleak picture though, one of sacrifice and peril and loss. I prefer to imagine the jettison of the rocket boosters on the space shuttle after launch. They served a noble and necessary role at one point, they were crafted with care and precision to excel in their purpose. This is the very point though – they serve one purpose for a brief and magical time, and then the rest of the shuttle must jettison the rockets to do what it was designed to do.
I wonder if there are times that our coping mechanisms, ways of thinking and speaking to ourselves, even relationships that served us in one point in time must also be jettisoned to make room for growth, in the way a plant must be pruned to bloom. Nothing was inherently wrong with the old ways you see – nothing was wrong with the rockets. If there had been, they never would have gotten so far along as to have reason to be cast off. Perhaps we all contain excess cargo that should be jettisoned to lighten our journeys as we prepare for wonderous transition.