Sunday, May 16, 2010

For the Love of Words

There's a newsletter I receive every month that has a section called "Why I Write" where members submit short essays about what compels them to write. Sometimes I read it, but mostly I think about what my essay might look like, if I chose to submit one.

So why do I write? My answers shift from time to time, but mostly I've realized that I have always written and always loved the process of wiggling the pen on the paper and watching a page become filled with my words. Somewhere along the line, I discovered that the written word is very powerful - it can stir emotion, push people into action, shift attitudes and points of view, and even give birth to a new nation.

Why is that? Words, after all, are just ink symbols on a page, modern glyphs. No, the written word is more than that. Writing is the hard copy, the tangible, lasting form of the spoken word, and the spoken word is mighty powerful indeed. Words have energy, they carry and convey emotion, they express our thoughts, and sometimes, form our opinions. Words and thoughts influence our facial expressions, our body language, even our actions.

In my life, as I'm sure is true in yours, I've been both stung and uplifted by another's words. My children's verbal and written expressions of love and affection bring me to tears, friends' words of encouragement keep me moving when I feel tired and stuck, compliments bring smiles, and words of sympathy bring comfort. Words come to us from the past, like when I hear my Mom's voice saying "A thought is a prayer" when someone has been on my mind, or when I hear a favorite High School teacher saying "Your writing is beautiful" when I find myself wondering about my skills...and she was a Math teacher.

Yes, words have immense power, and so what are we to do with them? Well, I try to be careful with the words I choose to share with the world, both publicly and privately. I teach my children that words have energy, both positive and negative, and it's our responsibility to opt for the positive as often as possible (that's why name calling is so harmful). It's easy to be careful with our words when we're happy and calm. It's much, much more difficult to be mindful of our words when we're angry or hurt, but that's precisely when it's most important to choose our words with care. Once the hurtful, spiteful barb is let loose in the room, it's so very hard to heal the wound it has inflicted on another. My hope is that we each be a little more mindful of the words we choose to share with each other from day to day.

So I write for the love of words, for their influence and charm, for the ability to put positive, honest energy into the world, and to share what I ponder and what I've learned, in the hope that it will help at least one other person, somewhere, somehow. And that, in a nutshell, is the whole point of this blog.

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