Limericks are humorous, frequently risqué verses of three long and two short lines that rhyme in an “aabba” pattern.
They were popularized by Edward Lear, in the late 19th century. (Fun fact: It is said that the term, “limerick” is from the chorus sung between improvised verses from the song, “Will you come up to Limerick?”) When done well, limericks use puns, spoonerisms, and double-entendres. The earliest known American limerick (1902) is:
There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.
Putting words together in playful patterns is fun. Remember the long-standing children’s poem:
Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear.
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.
Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t very fuzzy, was he?
Another example of linguistic mischievousness was a novelty song from World War II:
Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey.
A kiddley divey too, wooden shoe.
It’s more fun to say than any sense it appears to make. However, the bridge of the song explains:
If the words sound queer and funny to your ear,
a little bit jumbled and jivey,
Sing ‘Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy.’
Okay, it’s antiquated and trite – but c’mon, it’s amusing; admit it.
How we arrange words gives us a sense of joy and satisfaction.
Say “Aluminum Anemone” out loud. Go ahead. No one’s listening. Notice how it feels on your lips? No, it doesn’t make sense; it’s just pleasurable to pronounce.
More importantly than poems or limericks, words are the bedrock for our thoughts.
The reason we lack memories of our earliest years is because we did not yet possess the ability to form words to describe what was happening. No words? No memories.
Since words form the foundation of what we think, and those thoughts determine our actions, we must accept therefore that words determine the quality of our lives. The words (a.k.a. thoughts) we habitually allow to shoot across the synapses of our brains have put us where we are in life. If everything’s great, keep using the same words. On the other hand, if the situation is not to our liking, it’s imperative we alter our words.
Take the expression, “I can’t…”, a common phrase. We all use it. “I can’t lose weight.” “I can’t find time to exercise.” “I can’t stick to a budget.” “Can’t…” makes us victims, unable to change, controlled by external forces.
Try this experiment. Think of something you “can’t” do — or use one of the examples just listed. Now, modify “can’t…” to “won’t…” and notice the immediate adjustment in what you feel. Shifting to “won’t…” alters the power balance, moving it from “out there” to “in here.” Granted, it might not feel very empowering to admit that we might be our own barrier to happiness; so we can take it a step further, substituting “I could…” and adding if “if I only …” at the end. As illustration, change, “I can’t lose weight,” to “I could lose weight if I only…”
Minor changes in the words we use lead to major changes in what we imagine and — providing we are willing to take action, utilizing the phrase “I will…”, we eventually look back and will say, “I did…”
Changing behaviors without changing thoughts is akin to trying to put out a stove fire, without turning off the gas. What we say to ourselves determines what we do to ourselves, or with a tip of the hat to Mr. Lear…
There once was a person distraught
Who gave his words some thought
He realized what I say
Will make me okay
Providing I learn what I’m taught.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a THINspirational speaker and author. Since losing 70 pounds 23 years ago, he conducts speeches, workshops, and presentation. He also coaches individuals and consults with companies on how to implement and handle change. He can be reached at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com