One of my favorite words in the English language for a number of reasons is “nevertheless.” I love the sound of it, the delicious way its four syllables slowly roll off the tongue. (The word “nevertheless” in French, néanmoins, is even more delicious, I think: It requires puckered lips, as if for a kiss.) The English “nevertheless” also reminds me of that magical locale, Never-Never Land, a dreamy childhood place that’s far from adult-size rigid realities.

It seems to me that when we use this three-words-squished-into-one adverb “nevertheless” in a sentence it’s as if we’re signaling to make a soft turn in a more positive direction. Better than “but,” it means “even so” or “all the same” or “regardless,” when connecting partially contradictory statements. It comes from the Middle English “neverthelater,” a word meaning “despite anything to the contrary” and “notwithstanding.”

“Nevertheless” strikes me as a wise word, too, with other-worldly powers. Something along the lines of “abracadabra!”  There you are, barreling along (in your mind) downhill, when you opt to apply the brakes. Enough of this, you think, and then you decide to change course. Upward.

Here’s my most recent example:

Leaving Taos last week – at the height of its glittering, glorious Indian Summer weather, before the winter cold and snow set in, and saying goodbye to all of my cherished Taos friends – was difficult to do. As a single, retired woman on a tight budget, I really don’t know when or whether I’ll ever be able to return. I was feeling understandably blue as I flew away. Then, on my last flight back to Mexico, I was given a “nevertheless” uplift.

The view from my window, flying back to Mexico at sunset last Wednesday

Yes, I said to myself, goodbye is always sad to say. Nevertheless, you now live in a place that is beautiful, colorful, affordable, embracing, and, best of all, boasts your preferred weather — sunny-and-warm – year round. Mexico has given you a new lease on life. You are one lucky, independent, seventy-three-year-old retiree!

Then, like magic, I felt better. This “nevertheless” talking-to changed my outlook and attitude, gave me a fresh turn of mind. Instead of dwelling on my past and losses, I became grateful for my present blessings.

So here’s my WOW advice: Next time you’re having a bad day — as we all do, of course, from time to time — begin a whole new sentence, aloud or on paper, with the magical word “Nevertheless…” I guarantee that sooner than you can say “abracadabra!” you’ll be feeling much, much better.

~ ~ ~

My poetry-loving friends will particularly like this poem, “Nevertheless,” by Marianne Moore. I especially love its last six lines:


you’ve seen a strawberry
that’s had a struggle; yet
was, where the fragments met,

a hedgehog or a star-
fish for the multitude
of seeds. What better food

than apple seeds – the fruit
within the fruit – locked in
like counter-curved twin

hazelnuts? Frost that kills
the little rubber-plant –
leaves of kok-sagyyz-stalks, can’t

harm the roots; they still grow
in frozen ground. Once where
there was a prickley-pear –

leaf clinging to a barbed wire,
a root shot down to grow
in earth two feet below;

as carrots from mandrakes
or a ram’s-horn root some-
times. Victory won’t come

to me unless I go
to it; a grape tendril
ties a knot in knots till

knotted thirty times – so
the bound twig that’s under-
gone and over-gone, can’t stir.

The weak overcomes its
menace, the strong over-
comes itself. What is there

like fortitude! What sap
went through that little thread
to make the cherry red!