Maybe it was a global pandemic. Maybe it was just local culture. Having recently traveled to five different cities in Alaska, just maybe people in that part of our beautiful country have it right. They use the word ISH.
Now, if you have never heard the term ISH used before, imagine walking to a store in downtown Skagway, Alaska and seeing the sign in the window that says we are open 9'ish to 5'ish. What does that mean anyway? Will the store open at 9? Will it close at 5? Are the prices in the store the same? Is the t-shirt that says Alaska printed on the front of it 19 dollars-ish? Or is just 19 dollars?
City to city, I continued to hear this term of ISH being used by locals and not just in the windows of merchants while browsing on the streets for eating and shopping. In Ketchikan, Alaska I was able to hit a local drugstore but didn't really have enough time to be able to make the purchases that I wanted to make. I asked the local store owner, "What time do you close today?" He replied, "5-ish!" There it was again, that term ISH.
Have you ever asked yourself this very simple question, "What does a cup of coffee mean?" A cup of coffee could mean enjoying the fresh smell of the air on a crisp fall day. It could mean getting together with an old friend or a new acquaintance to catch up or do a get to know. It might have implications for a big business deal where the fine points of the contract get ironed out. Sometimes, we get so busy we might not have enough time for a cup of coffee. That's when you know things in your life have become unhinged. When you don't have time for a cup of coffee.
That's why I simply fell in love with this word ISH. For more than 20 years, I've been running a calendar like a well-oiled machine. Blocks of 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and/or 1 hour at a time going from place to place, meeting to meeting, zoom to zoom. Has it worked? Hell yes, it's worked but along the way it takes quite a toll on you when you run hard six (sometimes seven) days a week with complete and utter rigidity to your calendar.
After this Alaska trip, it had me thinking why not at least keep the calendar I have today but start using the word ISH. ISH could mean a few minutes before, maybe 15 minutes after, but I tend to not always exactly be on time anyway. It also gives a sense of 'I want to get together' but life is too short to worry about the difference between 9:00 a.m. and 9:05 a.m. especially when you are kissing your loved one's goodbye, enjoying a bite of breakfast or dessert engaging in a great conversation, or merely finishing reading a great article that you know you won't read later.
I didn't get to see all of Alaska, but where I did people seemed friendly, relaxed, and genuinely happy. Maybe, just maybe, we all need a little bit more ISH in our lives.