Baby vicuna (related to to the llama. Might be the ancestor of the alpaca). By Thomas Quine (BabyfaceUploaded by Dolovis) via Wikimedia Commons.

It was another day–oddly, only the second one in this year’s A to Z Challenge–where I didn’t have a word pop easily into my head, so I decided to let google lead me again. And I ended up with vicissitudes. Actually vicissitudinous, but given that the definition was: “Characterized by, full of, or subject to vicissitudes,” that wasn’t entirely helpful.

Vicissitudes are ups and downs in various forms, but I like the word as it pertains to life. From our friends at Merriam-Webster:

1 a the quality or state of being changeable mutability
b natural change or mutation visible in nature or in human affairs
a a favorable or unfavorable event or situation that occurs by chance a fluctuation of state or condition 

  • the vicissitudes of daily life
b a difficulty or hardship attendant on a way of life, a career, or a course of action and usually beyond one’s control
c alternating change succession
To use it entirely incorrectly, it seems at this precise moment in time, we are all up to our necks in vicissitudes. That’s that’s not a mixed metaphor; it’s a hard-churned one.
The word itself is as undulating as a snake, especially in its plural form, all sharp, biting S sounds. It holds no clue to its meaning at a glance, yet when you say it, it practically acts it out. Vicissitudes.
A word for our current experience, personal for some, universal for all. Vicissitudes.

8 thoughts on “Vicissitudes

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