Where no man has gone before

Bloganuary Day 11: Ask a silly question…

What does it mean to live boldly?

Today’s prompt strikes me as an exceptionally silly question. With another 20 days of Bloganuary to get through after today, I hope this isn’t the start of a downward spiral into increasingly odd prompts.

Anyway, if in doubt, start by going to the dictionary for guidance. According to the online version of Merriam-Webster, there are no less than seven possible meanings for the word ‘bold’ (‘boldly’ is the adverb derived from it, so at least WordPress got that right).

  • fearless before danger; showing a fearless spirit. The problem here is that fearlessness is not necessarily a rational response to danger – unless you’re really determined to get that Darwin Award. Your surviving relatives will be so proud.
  • impudent or presumptuous.We all know people who live boldly in this sense: the investment business (and politics) is full of them. It is a symptom of rampant egotism and not an attractive trait and certainly not one I would care to live like.
  • assured, confident. According to Merriam-Webster, this meaning is obsolete. This surprised and also, in some measure, disappointed me. It’s surely more socially acceptable – certainly for those with whom you come into contact – to be assured and confident than to go full-throttle egomaniac.
  • sheer, steep. Like cliffs, according to the dictionary. That’s a new one on me. Nah. In this instance perhaps Merriam-Webster should leave poetic licence to the poets (but not the impudent ones).
  • adventurous, free. I can see how being adventurous could be interpreted as living boldly – but, you know, those Darwin Awards….Also, I don’t think you can equate freedom with boldness: more a matter of luck.
  • standing out prominently. Why on Earth would you want to do that? It’s just asking for trouble.
  • being or set in boldface. Obviously.

At the end of all that, frankly, I am none the wiser as to what it means to live boldly. This almost certainly means that I do not live boldly. I find this quite reassuring.

One nagging thought remains, however. How did the dictionary miss this? If you’re a member of the crew of the Starship Enterprise, surely you can live your best life and boldly split an infinitive on your way to where no man has gone before.

Although I’d rather you didn’t.

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