Monday, December 18, 2017

My Relationship with Words

“A word after a word after a word is power.”
― Margaret Atwood

Words have always possessed a mysterious and infectious power for me. I’m not exactly sure when this initially took root, but I imagine it dates back to many overlapping instances that each contributed to who I am today.

One of the first stories I ever wrote revolved around a boy who was assigned the difficult task of naming all that existed around him. His circumstances, his environment, events both painful and exhilarating, birthed the beautiful process of naming. It’s how he grew to understand the world. As a maybe-ten-year-old, I imagine this young boy’s story was closely linked to my own.

Or perhaps my fascination and reverence for words came alive during a rowdy dinner table moment. I had three older sisters and often our conversations tilted toward the profane. Wearing thin of this, my parents tried something new one night. They invited us to, on the count of three, yell out our favorite curse word. One. Two. Three. At maybe-ten-years-old, I let the F-word fly. Everyone else kept their traps shut so my F-bomb shot out like a solo grenade. I think my parents were intending to strip profanity of its brassy lure. I get it. But something else stuck with me that night. Words have impact.

Some words I wear like scars. Others I have tucked so far deep down inside me, they’ve ossified like bone because they’ve meant that much.

Words are exquisite. Volatile. Heartbreaking. Tender. Blades and balm. They evoke all kinds of reactions and interpretations. They are our primary way of communicating, of speaking both love and hate.

I’ve grown quite attached to words, the way they bend and shift inside my mind. The way I can spill them on a page, then fold them up origami-style, reveling how they change shape. And meaning. Words can mutate and blossom. They can multiply exponentially or shrivel within a second.

As I age, I’ve learned to be more careful with what I say, more discerning.

I share all of this to drive home one point.

Words brush against the sacred for me.

You can do a lot to me. Much has been done already. I rebound with fire in my soul.

But do not take away my words.

These words—they are how I understand this world. I am free in them. And I have every intention of staying that way.

“A word after a word after a word is power.”
― Margaret Atwood

*I’ll be back in a few weeks. Merry Christmas!


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