Sunday, April 18, 2010

Considering the Power of Words and Silence

Ever since I learned to read and write, the power of words has thrilled me. It also to this day terrifies me how much power a handful of words from the right (or wrong) person at the right (or wrong) moment can hold so much power over your life. Think about it: the words you want to hear. The words you are loathe to hear.

Someone offers you a job. Someone tells you that you are fat. Someone tells you they think you are beautiful. Someone admires your work, or someone tells you to look for something in a different field. Someone reveals a secret. Someone tells a lie. Someone says I love you.

And, by extension of the power of words, the power of silence. Someone chooses to hold their tongue instead of gossip. Someone does not accuse you. Someone does not say I told you so. Someone chooses to remain silent instead of asking you to stay. You do not tell someone how important they are to you. You do not say how much you need a particular thing in order to be happy. You do not say I love you.

Even these things we do not say, they are word-forms, with as much power in the withholding as the giving of words.

And on this, we build our lives, and it is all sand and fog.

And they are, in the end, all just words. But what different directions they spin us in, what effects they have on the trajectory of our lives. How easily they can help us transcend ourselves...or crush us, as though our centers weren't made of bone at all.

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