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Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve found myself frequently using the phrase, “a real doozy.” No idea where it came from, how I picked it up. I don’t recall ever saying it before, but now it’s all over the tip of my tongue. “That was a real doozy! It’s gonna be a doozy! Watch out, we’re in for a real doozy!” Mostly, I’ve been saying it to the cats. It sounds funny, and it’s fun to say.

Eventually, I had to look it up. To make sure I was using it properly — I thought it could refer to something either good or bad, and I was correct. Also, I wanted to find out where the word came from, and to make sure it didn’t have some ugly origin I was inadvertently perpetuating — turns out, it’s fine.

Doozy is a derivation of “daisy,” as in the flower.

In the 18th century, a “daisy” could refer to any person or thing that was especially pretty, charming, or excellent — a paragon of its kind. By the Victorian era, it meant anything wonderful or extraordinary. Around this same time, in the mid-19th century, “upsy-daisy” was being used, usually with children, when picking them up, lifting them into the air with delight, or setting them aright after a tumble. This got mashed-up with “whoops” or “oops” and sometimes became “whoopsie-daisy,” giving a balance to both the down (whoops) and the up (daisy!). The etymology gets a little murky here — none of my research uncovered this exactly — but my guess is that “doozy” emerged as a contraction of both parts of this phrase.

Thus, a “doozy” can be something calamitous or something magnificent. It’s an emphatic example of whatever it is. A real doozy of a storm, or a real doozy of a party.

The word “daisy” originated in Middle English, also a contraction — Day’s Eye.

It’s got me noticing the ways I’m inclined to think of and talk about my days as “doozies.”

I suppose I am my own day’s eye as I gaze upon this life arrayed before me. Each of us, our days’ eyes.

And yeah, to my view a lot of them lately are real whoppers — doozies. Resoundingly glorious or categorically poopy. I’ve been moody, wildly up and down in them.

Some days, I am so pumped-up and empowered that I have no doubt we can transform the world with our love, and create anything our hearts desire. Other days, hope seems a thin and fragile thing, something that could be blown away forever by one more disappointment, setback, or piece of bad news. Sometimes, I’m ready to take it all on with the spirit of boundless possibility, to be my own and everyone’s champion and cheerleader. Other times, I just want to hug and cry together, consoling each other as we face the harsh facts of life.

It’s very hard to hold both simultaneously. But I think it’s what we have to do. Give our hearts to possibility and reckon honestly with actuality at the same time. Practice hope, faith, trust, acceptance, and unconditional love at the same time that we’re dealing with all the shit that seems like it simply shouldn’t be. At the same time, face the gritty bitterness of our experience and stand up for everything that we dare to dream.

Gah — it seems like if I could just land in the right balance, it wouldn’t feel so whoopsie-daisy all the time. Then again, maybe that’s too narrow an objective. Maybe I’d feel less spun out if I just made more room for the inevitable doozies.

“Yes” is a fundamental principle in acting and improv. There’s probably some version of it in all the arts, at least the collaborative ones. The idea is that instead of shutting down someone’s impulse or contribution, rather than countering it with something different or contrary, with a “no,” we are enjoined to say “yes.”

We can say: “Yes, AND…” Adding to it, building it, progressing it together. Perhaps this is a useful approach to all our creative pursuits, all of life, the constant, mind-bogglingly complex collaboration between us and everything.

Not that we have to accept the unacceptable. But not setting ourselves up in a perpetual argument with reality, either. We don’t stop the doozies by shutting down or turning off. As much as I might like for things to calm down for a second, my power isn’t in saying “no” to the chaos or discord, but in saying “yes” and adding my own peace and harmony.

That was a real doozy — and — here we are. This already promises to be a doozy — and — we could make it fun, or peaceful, or kind, or inclusive, or exciting by bringing ourselves more fully to it.

I can’t wait to be with you this Sunday, September 10, 10am at Maple Street Dance Space. With the divine Patty Stephens. XO, Drew

©2023 Drew Groves

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