A Verb to Add to the List: Shuffle

Learning to shuffle a deck of cards marks an important rite of passage for certain children.  Me, being fascinated by certain words, start thinking about the verb “shuffle” as I’m playing cards with the neighborhood children.

I had completely forgotten about this verb; it’s not even on my list of 500 favorite verbs. (This is the list I tell students to put above their desks or by their beds so they can find options to replace state of being verbs like: is, are, was, were, seems, appears, exists.  Boring, bland.  I tell them a great verb can change their sentence and their lives.  I’m not kidding about this.  I want vivid! I want power!)

Shuffle has flair.  It’s a verb that, to some, denotes dragging the feet.  But in its best form, shuffle means to randomize in a way that creates the type of variation needed for fair play in a game.  In dance, a shuffle represents the backbone of tap and folk dancing.  My favorite meaning of shuffle comes from jazz music:  a shuffle note means I alternate the duration of notes to create amazing music.

As a woman of routine, I like order, stability, and predictability.  As I age, I realize that spontaneous variation disturbs me more than it delights me.  I used to love spontaneity–the more random and unpredictable, the better.

The flair blog began with a random and spontaneous act.  I danced in my kitchen with my neighbor.  That led to a local NPR radio spot, and well, the rest is history. 

Today, I want to shuffle.  I want to allow space for random and spontaneous.  When I shuffle my day, like a deck of cards, I can make music.

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