As we’ve discussed countless times, I start my days with at least a minute or three of journaling.
These days it’s a super-quick sketch of our Heroic Virtue Compass then a quick trip through the Big 3 x 2 +1.
The other day I sat down to begin my Deep Work session with the quick sketch of our compass.
You know what I saw right after I wrote down the four cardinal virtues of Wisdom + Self-Mastery + Courage + Love?
I kid you not.
I’m sitting there at my desk in my new outdoor office and glance up from my journaling (right after writing those cardinal virtues!) to see a beautiful red cardinal perch itself on the limb of a tree a couple dozen feet away.
And, I thought to myself: Thank you, Optimizing gods.
Then it became official.
I now have a new favorite bird: The cardinal.
Which, of course, led me to Google.
Google: “Why are cardinals the bird called cardinals?” (Slightly awkward phrasing but it got the job done. Thank you, Google. 🤓)
Enter, our first result: “Northern cardinals are named for the males’ brilliant red plumage, which reminded European settlers of the rich red vestments of Catholic cardinals in the church hierarchy. The bird’s crest is also reminiscent of the headgear of some higher religious officials.”
Then it was time for a trip to our friendly dictionary for Today’s etymological lesson.
The Dictionary tells us that the noun form of cardinal can refer to either our friendly bird or Catholic dignitaries.
The adjective form means “of the greatest importance; fundamental.” As in: “The four cardinal virtues are worth journaling every morning to remind ourselves of the game we’re playing and how to play it well.” 😉
Now for the ancient origins of the word.
Here it is: Back in the day when Latin was all the rage, the word cardo (from which we get cardinal) meant “hinge.” As in, the hinge of a door.
Those cardinal virtues?
They’re the hinges on which the door to our Optimus-best self opens.
Let’s push that door open.