On Using Words

 

Words are funny things, no? We like to think that, after all these years, we’ve got control over them. We like to believe that the words we say are just as carefully placed as the lives we choose to lead.

But do you say words or do words say you? It’s a stretch, I know, but think about it: We give up a little bit of our power to a few syllables when we say them, for we can only hope that they reflect the ideas we intend. We wish more than most things that once they leave our lips, they act on our behalf.

Tell me, when you last confessed your soul to someone you love, did you honestly think that your words did your emotions justice? Could your words ever, really, perfectly convey your heartbreak? Is it possible that they could squeeze your hand, wipe your tears, or smile at you just the way you want them to? I think not.

I’ve been talking a lot lately. I worry that the words I breathe will betray me. I worry that they might not be snatched in midair to be processed as I had planned. I worry that they fall on or float through dead ears.

And then there are the words we’ll never say. They are the ideas and truths that we keep caged because, no matter what we do, we can never master them. They are words we can only dream of shouting at the World’s end. Oh, how glorious would it be if they could only find their way to you!

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6 Comments

Filed under Observant

6 responses to “On Using Words

  1. Dr Johnson said words were adequate to express the heights of human happiness, but not the depths of pain and grief; but then experience had taught him there was a lot more of the latter in the world than the former.

    • I tried Googling this but I couldn’t find anything. It sounds so interesting! Do you mind posting a link to this info? Thanks!

    • Hey, so I didn’t find that quote we were talking about before, but here’s another I thought you might enjoy:

      “Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish.”
      — Hermann Hesse

      • Ah yes, that gap between thought and words. I suppose that’s one way to look at what writers do, try to close the gap… but you never quite can.

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