Dauntless Days

For many years, I faced daunting days, not just Jeff’s ill health, but his death, my grief, caring for my father, becoming more or less homeless. (Not homeless in the living on the street sort of way, but homeless in not having any particular place to live or to be.)

Today was not one of those days. For the second or third or fourth morning (I’ve lost count), I’ve woken up to days that in no way daunt me. Nothing to do but minimal tasks, no appointments, no concerns except to isolate myself and try to keep well. Even the weather does not daunt — chilly enough in the morning to need a coat to water my newly sodded lawn, warm enough in the afternoon to take a refreshing walk.

Because of this lack of dauntingness, I intended to entitle this piece “Dauntless Days,” but according to the various online dictionaries, dauntless is not the opposite of daunting.

Daunting means intimidating and seemingly difficult to deal with.

Dauntless means showing fearlessness and determination.

Undaunting means undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear.

Weirdly, then, on all those daunting days, I had to be dauntless to even get up in the morning and undaunting to get through the waking hours.

So what is the opposite of daunting? Apparently, there is no word with “daunt” as a base to mean what I mean about today not being a daunting day. Some antonyms are: nice, pleasing, calming, comforting. None of those words have the euphoniousness of “dauntless” when paired with “days” that I would have liked for a title.

So, even though this was not a dauntless day (I needed no show of fearlessness or determination to get through the hours), I did speak of the term, so I decided to stick with the title.

And anyway, does anyone but me and a few other logophiles care whether the title is accurate or not? But whatever the title, the meaning of this piece is still the same: today was not at all a daunting day.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

2 Responses to “Dauntless Days”

  1. Estragon Says:

    It’s interesting (to me) how language affects thinking. Although it seems obvious for a thought to lead to the expression of the thought through language, I wonder if it sometimes works the other way. A less than fully formed thought gets reflected by the language it would be expressed in, then formed by the language of expression.

    In the daunt example, there seems to be a switch in the object of the daunt. The object of something daunting is external, a thing to be afraid of. The object of dauntless or undaunting is internal, our reaction to the something. This, in turn, makes me wonder who defines the dauntiness of a particular situation. Are we dauntless or undaunting, or is it whether we’re perceived as such? The original object was external, so does that make the reaction something to be judged externally as well?

    Language (at least our language) doesn’t seem particularly good at describing the absence of something. For now, !daunting works for me.


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