I deal in words. Stupid statement, I know, but I am fascinated by the way that one can be totally and utterly precise with language even in today’s age of texting “call u l8” which, admittedly, I only text my mom because she has an old, smaller phone and brevity is key. In speech and written communications, however, I try to be precise and weave rhythmic stories – true to life, for the most part – with the English language. It’s like dance, again, like yoga – there’s a flow of words and a movement of language that still manages, at least to me, to swirl and eddy across a blank screen the way coveted fountain pen’s ink would glide across a page. The blinking of the cursor does not bother me. Rather, I want to make it move and spin over a page like I used to be utterly fasicinated by a typewriter and would beg my dad to let me use his really super neat model (it was electronic and had a case) to type, rather than write my English and History essays. Woe betide me if I made too many errors and used up his corrective tape – an event that inevitably took place because I wanted to type fast, darn it, and show off, and he could always tell when I tried to cheat and use white-out (Tipp Ex in the UK) because it would make strange little blotches on the ink afterwards.
But since I’ve hit the ripe old age of whatever it is, I found that, as the Smiths sang, “Heavy words are so lightly thrown.” Be it the ear that hears the positive and the heart that opens with the promise, or the tongue that speaks what it thinks the ears desire, but words with the weight of the Empire State Building promise and cajole and speak so-called truths and affect the body as a whole. In reality, these words are clouds that spin and swirl above Manhattan and end up, superficially, on Instagram with the end goal of 30-second fame and notoriety achieved. Their true meaning, not conveyed, would have been to harsh to express bluntly and to a person’s face, and the speaker more oft than not has no way, at all, of speaking said truth.
People are cowards and they retreat into basic forms of this language that I revere.
On the other hand, people use their words to criticize, to use a power they know that they lack for the pure intent on hurting another – for making that person feel the deep, burning pain for…whatever it is that they don’t want to admit.
Others take words and inject them with a bitter vinegar and rancid spice that does nothing more than push out spit-fueled poisons into the air. They have intent, these words, even though they are more basic. And they hurt. They shatter the stretchy, malleable epidermis that can deflect the narrowest of blades. These words are corrosive and ugly. There is no shield.
People use words because they can’t take language and use it to identify how they are feeling, what they need from the world, or why they’re scared. They want to wound others and remove a little bit of venom from within their veins in order to feel some of that lightness and flow they know is lacking.
I don’t know the worst use for language, but I do know some of the best. These speakers can describe wondrous pictures of different lives, worlds, experiences. They use words that present a Picasso-like image of their world; quirky, askew, utterly unique and brilliant in their otherness. There’s something to be learned from those that can direct language in such a fashion. These people understand love and pain and beauty and know how to unite with other language-weavers. Call it intelligence, deem it perception, but they make the world a little more curious.
I count myself incredibly lucky to be among those who are such kindred spirits. Knowing they exist diminishes further the importance of those who do not know how to express anything constructive. Instead, I only feel sorry for them.
But not for long.