Language is a funny thing, isn’t it?
We assign meaning to these abstract shapes, then group them together to form words, sentences, dialogue…language. And this, for a great many of us, is how we communicate.
Of course, we also have body language, breath, pace, inflection, tone – all sorts of things to prop up these insufficient attempts to understand each other. But is this elaborate dance necessary?
Yes, words matter. How we use them matter. A line of poetry can make your heart stop, a pronoun can set you free, and a word from an oligarch can set the world on fire.
As we get older, we’re schooled in the fickleness of language. We butt up against words so confused they cower under a bruised and battered ego, terrified of real confrontation. We trip over them, clumsily lashing out hurt when all we’re trying to say is that we’re hurt. We struggle to find them, blindly searching for something that can name the thing, fix the thing, and sigh when all we have left are platitudes.
In times like these, I feel the urge to turn away from words. Set them aside for now. Let them dry out by the fire and rest. Perhaps in the silence we’ll hear each other again.