Today I was talking with someone about the fact that many years ago I had the word “audacity” writ large and colorfully on a piece of paper stuck to the bulletin board in my workspace. My boyfriend at the time disapproved. I made points to him about needing to take risks, about how we are sometimes creatively too careful and cautious. But when I moved apartments the paper came down in the packing, and I never put it back up.

I also recently read an article that talked about how sometimes we (especially women as “we”) can chronically wait for some sort of “permission” to do the things we want to do and know we can do. Audacity doesn’t ask permission – which is possibly why that ex-boyfriend didn’t like me associating with that word (I might not be the person he wanted me to be if I was too audacious… another story in itself), and why I’m disappointed in my past self for letting go of the word so easily.

Today I was wistfully remembering that word in my workspace, and the flamboyant and joyously colorful way I had written it, and my friend (referencing my work as a theatre artist) wondered aloud if there is a connection between the words “audacity” and “audition.” Both take courage. Both are about putting yourself out there.

I came home and looked it up, and was disappointed to learn that the two words have different Latin roots. Audacity comes from “audeo/audere” which means “to dare” (boldness, courage, and preparation), while “audition” comes from “audio/audire,” which means “to hear” (listen, attend to, pay attention). One little letter (e vs. i) makes a difference.

But I like thinking that these words might be related anyway. Isn’t being prepared and courageous necessary to really pay attention and hear? Aren’t they both a form of being truly present? To audition, you need to be audacious. And if you’re audacious, you may be allowing yourself to “audition” in one form or another.

That said, auditioning has a bit of a permission-seeking element to it, so I’m not sure how far to push a connection that I’m creating for myself.

But even if I don’t stretch to make the words related in my mind, I like the idea that combining audio and audeo can lead to a way I want to be present in the world: listening, attentive, prepared, courageous, bold.

Here’s to more audire and audere in our lives.

tent rocks

Nature is pretty audacious. No permission being asked here.


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