These days things seem to change at a rate much faster than in ages past. Technology is becoming the driving force in many lives, connecting and separating us at the same time.

One example I have been paying attention to is language. Context gets lost as we communicate more through the airwaves and wireless networks rather than face to face. And certain words and phrases that I thought I once knew the meaning of have apparently taken on new meanings.

For example, I always assumed the word pivot was a basketball term, where you keep one leg stationary and move around with the other one. Well, these days it seems lots of folks are pivoting, but I get the sense it has something to do with mind set rather than physicality because I don’t see a lot of people spinning around with one foot stationary when I go out and about.

Then there is woke which I thought was something we all did in the morning, as in “I woke up today.” But in fact the word has morphed (another good one) into a state of consciousness or awareness in relation to others.

Fraught has been confusing. I used to think it was used as a qualifier, which may not be the right word, as in “it was fraught with difficulty” or “fraught with divisiveness.” But nowadays something can be said just to be fraught. I still don’t quite get that.

Last on my incomplete list of words and phrases is one I think I have a handle on: Of a certain age. This is a phrase I have heard from time to time and one that confused me for a time, until I realized I had already passed into that reality, or perhaps have passed through it.

Of a certain age is generally meant to connote that a person is around 50 years old or more, but I have come to understand it as a state of mind that often takes that long to achieve. I am now 10 years past the gateway of 50 and there is much that I am certain about. I am certain I love my loved ones. I am certain I have gratitude. I am certain that when offered the opportunity to be helpful I will be so. I know what I know, and I know what I don’t know.

But even certainty can be deceiving. Recently, while working on a roof, I had the old roof stripped off and tar paper applied. I was certain it wasn’t going to rain and if it did, I was certain that it wouldn’t leak. Then came the deception of my certainty: it rained and it leaked. It was then I realized that being a roofer is, well, fraught.

The other big change in language is abbreviations, you know, lol, lmao, which are the only ones I know. There is a disconnect between generations that shows up in this practice. The other day I butt dialed, you know when your phone is in your back pocket and somehow typing occurs and is sent away. In this case the text went out to a group of younger people I had been chatting with previously. The text went something like this: “kj md poo 5% x yy.”

To my amazement one of the young people replied: “Yeah, I know what you mean!”

Joe Keenan is a roofer, baker and musician living in West Tisbury.