I realize I'm a few weeks late in recognizing the birthday of this word, one which has been called the most enduring word of American descent. It is the word okay. Yes, okay; or OK. It is now 175 years old.
One of my favorite journalists, Mo Rocca, reporting on my favorite network news-magazine, CBS Sunday Morning, did a wonderful story on the history of the word. You can find the video here.
But why am I bringing it up now? Well, while Mo does acknowledge that in the history of the word OK is the story that it comes from the Choctaw word "Okeh" which means, "it is so," he doesn't talk about its significance for us who live in Oklahoma.
Saturday, my Amazing-Missus and I were at a local nursery. We decide to replace some of the high-maintenance stuff in our landscape with not-high-maintenance stuff. A young horticulturist named Zack was assisting us. In the conversation we learned that Zack was born and raised in Southern California. As he was recommending trees and shrubs for us to consider, Zack said something about Oklahoma's very varied weather. I explained to him that these patterns are called "seasons". You have to explain these kinds of things to southern Californians.
We chose nandinas, a crepe myrtle, and a red bud tree. Zack said, "Those are very Okie selections." What he meant was these are things that know how to live and thrive in Oklahoma.
It struck me that what applies to plants also works for other living things--like people. Will Zack ever make it here? He'll probably survive, but he may not thrive. You don't seen many palm trees in these parts. And if you do, they're probably made of sheet metal.
Even among us Okies, different "species" thrive. We are a diverse group, a colorful tapestry. It's OKAY. Did you know that Oklahoma has more eco-regions than any other state? And we are as different as our ecology, our politics, our theology and cultural leanings. And I'm OK with that.
We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand
And when we say
Were only say-in "you're doing fine Oklahoma,
--Rodgers & Hammerstein