Archives for posts with tag: what I said was

I’ve had some inspired moments that left me urgently wanting to write, recently, but the timing was poor and the moment was not at hand; the ideas have since slipped away. Some mornings I wake feeling inspired to write, other mornings it is my morning meditation that inspires me…still others, I face a blank page for an eternity of minutes, until making an observation about that experience, itself, is what remains. (Guess what sort this morning has turned out to be? lol)

I keep a journal. My most private, uncensored, unfiltered, uninvestigated, unverified, stream-of-consciousness reflections on my experience are written there, ideally where they do no harm. I have many dozens of bound volumes reflecting on various details of my life over time, and at one point they were displayed on bookcases as a singular body of written work; there was something strangely powerful about standing midst the many varied volumes, understanding that even so many were only a small slice of my individual experience in a mortal lifetime. Change happens. Most of those volumes are now locked away, for space-saving and aesthetic reasons, and changes in what I need to hold on to as I have changed, myself. In high school I wrote with structure and discipline, in the evening, once daily, at the end of the day. Later, I wrote in a somewhat irregular way, because the Army didn’t make it an easy thing to find time to write. Domestic violence drove my writing ‘underground’; my journal was secured in a safe deposit box at a nearby bank that I felt reasonably certain my husband-at-the-time did not frequent. Opportunities to write freely, then, were very rare, and the writing seemed fairly desperate.

After my first marriage ended, and I moved into my own place, my writing (in my journal) exploded into a very large part of my experience, and the many dozens of volumes began piling up. I was going through blank books every 6 weeks or so, and writing about everything I could think to. Since then, on and off I’ve gone through periods of near-continuous writing that don’t exactly seem ‘inspired’ as much as … driven. Then I stopped. Just…stopped. For a long while I didn’t write at all, almost two years, I think. Eventually, I’d write one day, say nothing,  then it would be days, weeks, months before I ‘tried again’. I had ‘lost my voice’. It pained me. I was ‘stuck’ and uninspired, and also feeling that I urgently needed to say something. I was in a very bad place. Life continued to go on around me, and certainly I continued to reflect on it…but I’d lost a powerful ally on a lonely journey: myself. Words matter. Mine matter to me. I read what I write. I had stopped writing. I had stopped listening. There seemed no other choice to me, then; what I was saying on those pages wasn’t helpful. I considered burning them all, every volume, every page, every word. I’m still not sure why…and I’m still not sure it’s a bad idea.

The closer I got to turning 50, the more it hurt me to feel so silenced. I wasn’t painting, either. I felt shutdown, diminished, and impaired. I ended many days thinking “well, this has likely run its course then, hasn’t it?” about my life, and wondering what to do about that feeling.

...and usually with a cup of coffee.

…and usually with a cup of coffee.

Here I am on the other side of all that. I write most days, here, and less regularly in my journal – and it’s digital these days. Mindfulness practices, meditation, and improving my understanding of the neuroscience of emotion has taken me a long way from that dark place. I’ve been finding life worth living for a long while, now, without any requirement that it be ‘perfect’. I feel disappointed less often. The rare days I really struggle with anxiety, fearfulness, or that bleak feeling of utter futility, are those when my PTSD is clearly causing me problems, or when I’m fatigued and having more challenges with my head injury than I do when I am well-rested.

The writing is a metaphor inasmuch as there are characteristics of that experience that point out how varied the human experience can be: driven, broken, emotional, stoic, programmed, helpless…and also loving, compassionate, supportive, adventurous, romantic, exciting… mindful. It’s been these new practices of mindfulness that have benefited me most, and the rest of life’s lessons tend to build on that, these days, by improving my experience day-to-day, or highlighting missed practices, or needful changes, using less favorable outcomes to show the way. I’ve learned that living is not about filling the blank page, as much as choosing what to write with care, and that writing is one of the things I do to take care of me.

Today is a good day to write words about writing. Today is a good day to smile, and enjoy who I am – who we each are. Today is a good day to be kind, to be considerate, and to value my most private joys as highly as those I share.

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.