I recently finished reading the novel Room for my own book club this January. The protagonist and narrator is a 5-year-old little boy named Jack, and he is incredibly precocious, thanks to his mom’s teaching. One of their little games is to blend words together into what they call “word salad,” as in scared(y)+brave = scave. Being a word nerd myself, I find this concept to be ingenius, and oh-so-much-more exciting than plain old compound or hyphenated words, like “lifetime” or “aftermath.” Not that these latter words don’t have significance; it’s simply that I love the playfulness of blending two words to create new meaning (and no, I don’t like it when celeb couples get dubbed as a one-word phenomenon). It seems to me to require a little more thought and creativity to say “I’m feeling scave” as opposed to saying “I’m only somewhat afraid.”
I am scave right before a difficult workout.
I am scave when I’m about to have a potentially tough conversation with anyone I love.
I am scave when a major life change is on the horizon.
I am scave thinking about tackling new or unknown projects.
What I like about this word is that it acknowledges a feeling of anxiety or nervousness but pushes it aside in favor of being bold and facing up to the challenge. By the time I’m scave, I have already decided on my course of action. Butterflies in my stomach is usually a good thing, because if I have nerves then I care enough to want to do something well. (Apathetic people can’t be scave, I don’t think.) In the end, however, I have to love and trust myself enough to know that I am capable of accomplishing X. Maybe in my mind the -ve ending of scave simultaneously represents both “brave” and “love.”
In the story, Jack has to be scave when he is attempting to escape from their imprisonment; he is placed in a very dangerous situation and must survive in order to save his own life and his mom’s. All of his senses are on high alert as he works to remember the plan his mom devised and practiced with him. Perhaps when we find ourselves feeling scave is when we are most alive, when we are right on the verge of finding new life.