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Not everything can be awesome

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When I was a teen-ager, the best things ever got was "darn good." That expression was reserved for the very limited and the very special. But the expressions kept changing and the best things ever came to be described as great, wonderful, terrific, fabulous, marvelous, fantastic, unbelievable, incredible, and finally, awesome.

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By the time I became an adult, I had grown through the darn good, great, wonderful and terrific era and all the rest were yet to come.

We are presently in the era of awesome. But the meaning of awesome has been stretched to include anything that is ok -- not even darn good. For example, any teen-ager who likes a peanut butter sandwich would probably call one awesome. Now I happen to be very good at making a peanut butter sandwich because I like them very much. I think they're good, but wouldn't call them darn good unless they had jelly as well. But I would never call a peanut butter sandwich or a peanut butter with jelly sandwich awesome. They are all pretty much the same. The main reason is that beyond awesome there is almost no expression left to describe something that is very limited and very special. After all, if you call a peanut butter sandwich awesome what do you call the Grand Canyon? I asked a teen-age girl that very question recently and she smiled and answered "super awesome." There you go.

Remarkable would describe something exceptional as well, but almost nobody, young or old says remarkable.

Another word that tends to lose it's meaning through overuse is the word miracle. But adults probably do that more than teenagers. Aside from Biblical miracles, examples of miracles here on earth are very rare. One miracle would be when Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb in 1879 or when Dr. Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for polio in 1955. There had been numbers of other scientific and medical miracles since the time of Edison and Salk and they have been truly awesome. But the invention of Tinker Toys and development of cough drops, while good, have not been awesome and certainly have not been miracles. It is wonderful, but not a miracle when your Thanksgiving turkey and dressing turn out just right -- it happens to millions every year at this time. Also, a ball point pen that writes well and does not smear may be rare, but it is not a miracle.

So choose your words carefully and save something for the truly exceptional. In all the world, three things, but not many more, are truly awesome: God, love and the Grand Canyon. And, amazingly, all three are miracles. Remarkable.

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