Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Words on Words

Within my imagination, there is a struggle of constantly wanting to write but not knowing what to write about. Am I writing to pass the time or because I have something to say?

How do I add value to the universe with my words and not just take up space better used by something else-- by a conversation, or a news item, or a song?  Why do I feel the need to make words that are music for the eyes and food for the brain and fuel for the imagination?

Words can be tattoos on the mind, more permanent than ink on skin, than an etch in stone. They can be life-changing, life-directing, even life-giving. But what are words if they are not received? A word of wisdom falling on deaf ears is a precious gem dropped on the floor. Where does it go? Does it roll under the dresser, never to be found again? Or if another is nearby and sees it fall, does it still hold the same value if that person picks it up? It’s diamonds to one but coal to another.

Words can be poison, the most insidious kind--a little sting, over and over again until it breaks the skin. It’s the kind of poison that seeps into the marrow quietly, changing the way the blood flows, until one day the uncomfortable ache becomes unbearable agony. Where did this come from? Nobody remembers the origin story. Nobody was paying attention when the first word found its mark.

Words can build, but it’s disheartening how many more words it takes to build than it takes to destroy.  If you must speak hard words, layer them with kind ones.

There’s not necessarily safety in numbers – thousands of untrue words repeated over and over hold a thimbleful of water that leaks out slowly. A man would die of thirst in a lake of insincere words but feed for a week on a single morsel of truth.

Sometimes it’s not the words themselves, it’s the method of delivery.  Are they issued forth from the lips of a loved one, scribbled in the margin next to other words, or overheard in secret? Some words aren’t meant for us but we receive them anyway. Impassioned words incite nations to war. Make people believe your words and they will die for you.

Words mean everything and nothing. Entire conversations occur in silence. In the blink of an eye, the story can be rewritten between an inhale and an exhale.

So what does it come down to?

Say only the words you mean and never be afraid to let the silence speak for itself.

And therein lies the struggle: knowing when to speak and when to keep my peace.  How to not be overwhelmed when the silence is roaring. How to find the right words when someone asks.

Today these are my words. What are yours?


  1. Ellie,
    Your words have value to me! And as long as they exist, in print or online, they will always hold unfathomable potential. Van Gogh only sold one painting in his entire lifetime! He was dead and cold before anyone realized the value of his offerings. As I read YOUR words, I cannot help but think of those of others. Some might say they are "famous" quotes, and perhaps they were in their own time. Something my dad used to tell me as a quite talkative (gasp!) kid, still comes back to me often... I was told it was from Twain: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and to remove all doubt." Apparently, it's a take on Proverbs 17:28. Then again, there's this assertion from Edmund Burke (arguably) that goes "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing." Now a reasonable, rational human could take these two statements and realize there is a time and place for everything, but unfortunately the loudest voices are often the most ignorant, inconsiderate, and full of vitriol because that's what sells. It's easy to think that educating yourself on the myriad issues facing us and the world today can bring some form of comfort through understanding, but personally, I have found the opposite to be true. Blissful ignorance is something that I wish I could have back sometimes. I too struggle with finding my voice, my purpose, and how I can "fix" so many unfix-able things, but the constants that have not changed since the forming of the earth help me remember that these struggles are not new and we have access to a peace that transcends this universe. So in reference to your second sentence, I'm not sure if I really have anything to say, or if I should just roar on in silence. But what I do know, is that the more people that have these types of conversations, the more hopeful the future becomes. So your words DO have value! In my small corner of the world, on this cold and damp afternoon, you have caused me to think deeply and to smile. And I think Calvin and Hobbes would agree that that should be enough for a Tuesday. -AJB

  2. My first thought: Beautifully written words. I love the written word because it can be pondered over. I read this at my usual fast pace and I am going to go back and read it again, this time slowly so I can soak in each thoughtfully arranged sentence and think about it and appreciate it. My second thought is "more!" And when we don't have more, how wonderful that we can go back and read it again ....


I love to hear what you're thinking! Thanks for the comment love. :)


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