Friday, February 2, 2018

Worlds Through Words

Words have consequences

If you’ve ever doubted the power of words, imagine being illiterate, or visiting a foreign country where you don’t speak the language or where the characters used are not ones you’re versed in. Imagine riding a train or a bus and then realizing that none of the signs make sense to you, leaving you feeling lost. 

Words and our ability to wield and receive them appropriately give us power in our everyday lives. They’re easy to take for granted and yet once misused or completely gone can leave us tragically broken.  

I don’t like wasting words. Though I understand that at times we need ‘fillers’ to get by in this world—'Hi'; ‘How’s it going’; ‘Have a nice day’—there’s a part of me that will always question their worth. You see, I love intentional words. Needless to say, my passion lies in meaningful conversations, rendering me somewhat inept at small talk. Maybe it's because I love how words, when meant and pregnant with truth, have the capacity to genuinely move you and even cause your body to respond.  They can make your heart beat fast, tighten your stomach, cause you to blush. You could get chills, make you choke, or weak in the knees.  

Think of your experience when someone you desired said 'I love you' to you, or maybe you uttered the same to someone who has always felt unlovable. Think of the gift of assurance given when someone says 'I choose YOU' and the possibilities opened by that declaration.

Imagine the fears calmed and banished just with a simple 'Mommy's here' uttered to a helpless child. And what about 'I forgive you' or 'I believe in you' and the spirits they heal?

Have you ever been in the presence of ‘Goodbye’ between two souls who mean the world to each other? Only immeasurable sorrow and a palpable void are left after the realization that no more words can be shared between them.

I know too well how potent words are since I am one whose most significant relationships rely mainly on words. As an adult migrant, most of my family and some treasured friends are not physically with me. We lay out words to bridge our gap, convey emotions and reveal truths. I’m painfully familiar with how utterances can make or break my universe, turn my mood into a frantic pendulum.

I have felt much of words' consequences and my consciousness has been shaped much too often by mere words that I would never deny their power. Where action or physicality is not possible, words—whether spoken or written— become sufficient verbs to me.

Words can be so many different things to different people, but one thing is certain: Meaningful words make it possible for our individual worlds to collide. What we say can serve as keys we offer to others so they may gain insight into who we are, the life we've lived and even who we aspire to be. If we truly value ourselves and others, it will show in our words. It will also show in how much we listen and appreciate those other worlds we have the privilege of colliding with. Savor words, and while there is time, collide as much as you can with the worlds most precious to you.

*This piece was originally published on Catharsis under the title Crashing Into You (June 2011), and has now been slightly revised. 

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