Before we get a lot farther, I’ll say first that I am not holding any significant credentials in linguistics, semantics, or language.  All views expressed are those of… me. Just me. My thoughts. My observations. My judgement. My bias. My baggage.  All filtered through my own experiences, my perspective on life, love and the world, my history as a human being, my education – and lack of education, the reading I have done, the consideration I have given all these things, and finally assembled as neatly as possible as a string of words in a row, hoping to capture what I think I mean to say, to share with you.  Ready? 😀

There is more to a sunny day than meets the eye; what we see is rarely all there is.

There is more to a sunny day than meets the eye; what we see is rarely all there is.

I say a lot about words. I do so using the words themselves. I share my thoughts using words. I share most of my emotional experience using words; the portions of that shared wordlessly, through non verbal expression of feelings, is not very precise and easily misunderstood or taken personally by others. I recall things that happened before now using words. Words are the building blocks of my poetry, my captions, my titles, and my jokes. Words are what I use to write love notes, and consumer feedback, to express my delight and my outrage. Words deliver hurts and words nurture my soul. Words define experiences, things, and people and they describe places, events, and experiences. Words tell profound truths, and also terrible lies. Words expose what is real, and are also used to attempt to hide what is real, or alter a shared understanding of reality. Words are used to threaten, to coerce, to convince, to persuade, to celebrate, to mourn, to immortalize, to laud and to punish. Words  are powerful. Powerful like Science. Powerful like magic. We are words as much as we are stardust; even Carl Sagan used words to communicate what he understood about life, the world, and the heavens.

I giggle to myself, at least once or twice, when I read books about words. There’s just something about it that tickles me.

A former partner, years ago, once firmly advised me in a moment of strife, that it ‘didn’t count’ if I had to be told what he wanted to hear; that soothing words, comforting words, romantic words, supportive and nurturing words only count if the speaker comes up with it on their own, from their heart, with no help from the person who needs to hear the words. An interesting thought that relies heavily on the assumption that love allows us to read minds. lol I didn’t find it to be an accurate statement, myself, but I admit it was entirely true of my then-partner, who would reliably refuse any comfort or positive outcome from any words he’d been party to suggesting might be good ones to use in that moment. (It seems unnecessary to point out the choice being made there.)

Another partner once merrily chuckled playfully (in a moment of domestic-not-quite-bliss, having provided a clear specific suggestion of the words he most needed to hear in that  moment, and having heard them repeated back by his loving partner, in  sincere and heartfelt way, honest in intent, although lacking in originality), “Knows answer when told…” and as though taking notes or scoring a test, made a check mark in the air, over an imaginary clipboard. We cracked up together; it’s a moment and phrase that still sticks with me, and not solely because of shared military experience (from whence that quote comes, actually being used in military scoring of certain task testing). He makes different choices, and he felt cared for because he used his words – and so did his partner.

I’m just saying; words matter. They matter when we listen, and they matter when we speak.

The words themselves are less about originality than the order in which they are used (there are only so many to choose from, and some are favored above all others; obviously, originality is not the issue), and whether we feel heard when we use them, or how we are spoken to when we hear them (which is a very subjective thing that I suspect we entirely make up in our heads as we go).  There are books about words, about how to use them, what they mean, and when they are most effective for what purposes. There are books that simply list words other people have said, in the order spoken, and saved on record as being peculiarly useful, effective, amusing, or historically noteworthy. There are letters and love notes of such awesome craftsmanship that their emotive power is preserved in them, and they are referenced and shared down through the years as culturally significant.

I’m just saying; words really matter – enough that it is worthwhile to put some thought into the words we choose.

Nearly every moment of wonder, of love, of delight in my own experience has been framed up in words, if not in the moment, sometime soon after when I share it with someone else.  The profound love I share with my partners is expressed to me wordlessly, often, sure – but as often, my recollection of expressions of love is in words. The eager goals of our future are shared in words. The challenges we face together, or with each other, are discussed in words. My own growth and progress with myself as a being is shared with my loved ones – and in my blog – with words. My annual review at work is in words. All the words – each of them – bring a shade of meaning to my experience I might have lacked, or understood differently, without the words, themselves. I can tell someone I love them without using words…but I can’t tell them why, or how much, or explain the nuances of what they mean to me, without the words. I can cry out in pain or anguish without words, but I can’t tell someone what is wrong, or ask for help, without the words to do so.

So…yeah. Words matter…but…they’re also totally made up. Seriously. We created each one, and someone (generally the person who thought up the word, at least initially) also made up what the word will be used to convey. What words mean changes over time, with usage. Some people are very precise with their use of language. Some people are sloppy and careless to the point of being difficult to understand, or communicating something more about their education, or character, through their choices with words. There are so many words, and still there are ideas for which no word yet exists; new ones come into being all the time. We communicate and we miscommunicate using words. Words we made up. Words we defined. Words we choose to use. We create our own experience, and color it, with words we choose ourselves, and call our ‘thoughts’; we behave as though they are real, and follow them with our actions and moods until they are.

Yes. Words matter, and I’m just saying; use your words. Use them wisely. Use them with care. Use them, don’t let them just tumble out of your face hole randomly. Use them with awareness that they are easily ‘weaponized’ and awareness that you have the power to hurt someone with words in ways that are not easily healed. We accept that actions have consequences fairly easily; words, too, have consequences.

Another perspective on a sunny day.

Another perspective on a sunny day.

Today is a good day to use kind words. Today is a good day to express myself with great clarity. Today is a good day to hear what is said, and to take a moment to understand the words. Today is a good day to consider my words, and their merit, and to use them with great care. Today is a good day to build truth, and to use honest words. Today is a good day to love, and to say so with loving words. Today is a good day for praise and encouraging words. Today is a good day to contemplate words that convey beauty and words that communicate a better understanding. Today is a good day to change the words.