This little missive is being written on a quiet Friday afternoon in June. I have spent a large portion of the last two days in the company of words–cleaning out emails, sorting files, and reading for pleasure as well as for work. Ben Okri wrote the following in his book, A Way of Being, “When words work on you, they tend to do so in the silence, in your dreams, and in your wordless moments. Good words enter you and become moods, the quiet fabric of your being.”
I read somewhere that most of us tag the words of others with our own personal meaning and then have a tendency to hang onto them like lifeboats or store them away as evidence to be pulled out another time. Virginia Wolff said that “There are moments when the walls of my mind grow thin, when nothing is unabsorbed.” I have always been a person of ‘thin walls’, but this is particularly true for me when I am reading. I lose myself and somehow transcend time and place as the words move in and through me. I love the sound and cadence of words in a sentence. I enjoy learning about the origin of words and have always liked to know the ‘proper names’ of things; people, plants and places. I can be wooed (as in…”Darlin, I love the way you___”)and wowed ( as in, “You are the BIG winner) by words. I have witnessed the healing power of kind words and the sting and tenacity of harsh words said in haste. I have made short confessions and lengthy pleas. I have tried to justify bad choices and behavior (both my own and that of others) with words, and come to the conclusion that if a deed can stand alone in silence, sans words, it is probably not as heinous as you thought. Sweet and loving words can be a path back to that place where our hearts are still new and hopeful. Words can also make you feel trapped and irritable, as in the words uttered by rude cell phone owners, surly waiters and those folks you find yourself standing near who have decided that F**K is a descriptive adjective and must be used at least 4-5 times in each sentence.
Possibly because I am at home with words and read really well between the lines, I have an unusually well developed BS detector. Get me within hearing distance of a conversation and I can tell when things are going sideways and sniff out the bogus stuff. My husband has asked me on occasion to sit in on job interviews as a silent observer to check out potential employees. I have also tried the patience of my friends and loved ones by being very accurate at giving them the potential story line of a movie within the first 10 minutes of entering the theater. Maybe there are only so many plot combinations and after many books and many movies you can just call it out.
I must confess that one part of my personality which some have found amusing and taken advantage of in the past (you know who you are) is my gullibility. I suspect that once again, so many books and movies have contributed to the POSSIBILITY of the veracity of most things. I am hoping that most people would see this as an endearing trait as opposed to a character flaw.
I love chatting with people who use their hands to talk. It is kind of like the IMAX surround sound version of conversation–a total body experience for both the speaker and the spoken to. Words can make you laugh or cry, tick you off, seduce you, inform you, placate you, alarm or calm you. On occasion, when talking to someone I know well, I have the feeling that we may need a Rosetta Stone to interpret the content for us. I know that gender and learning style enter into this oft-times frustrating muddying of the spoken word. I have wished more than once that humans really could do that thing that SPOCK could do–the mind meld. No words needed; you just “GROKKED” it–emotions, intentions, history and all.
I will end with one of my favorite quotes from George Bernard Shaw: ” The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. How true, how very true…