Sunday, June 22, 2014


I've been thinking a lot about words lately.

That saying; sticks and stones...What a dirty little lie that is. Try all your might with that sword or stick or whatever it is that people use and brandish so violently to get at someone, it's actually the word that will penetrate to the core every time. Anyone who has ever been any bloody good with them will know that. Anyone who has ever watched a face crumple or light up from things said will understand completely when I say that a word will go anywhere and everywhere because it really does. It's the word that will remain after all those walls have crumbled and cities have disappeared into the sands. The monument ceases to exist without them. The word is the last breath. It is the very last thing that you will ever do and be…even after the sword goes in for the kill.

I found myself, the other night night in a meeting where words were the topic: my words to be exact.

I wrote some, you see. Teachers tend to at this time of year; we write lots of them. Almost 10,000 in fact, twice a year. I counted. Mostly written under duress, sometimes while cradling wine and often after many sleepless nights in a row. Some teachers will agonise over them, unable to scrape together the right ones that will make sense and do the child justice and other teachers write them easily and with flair, the words almost dancing out from their fingertips and dying to get onto the page. Some will be boring and uninspiring and others will make you smile or laugh out loud or bring about the one thing that all humans must have; connection and recognition. I've read them all and it's a privilege to do so. Even the bad ones teach me something about myself.

For me, I admire the ones that are truly beautiful. I'm in awe of those who can use them to delight others and I really *am* delighted by the clever ones, the kind ones (especially the kind ones) and the ones I rarely hear are the most coveted of all. I love putting them to good use and sometimes I labour over them, trying to find the right ones to say or write and berate myself because I can't find the ones that fill the gap or hate myself because I used the wrong ones. I know that they can sometimes be inadequate and more often than not I am inadequate in the way I use them. Often, I am at a loss for the right ones, or misuse the ones I have at my fingertips, or misconstrue those said to me and had mine misunderstood by others.

I recognise all too well that a gap exists between the word and the subject though. The space can be infinitely huge with the word not quite ever being able to do the subject justice. How wrong to misrepresent what you mean in your heart with what comes out of your mouth. Sometimes I wish there were no words. Sometimes I wish I could just walk up to someone and place my forehead against theirs and somehow they would understand, not in their head but in their heart. Yes, words are everything and yet they are so fallible but there is no escaping them. Mostly, I long to say the important ones but I just can't... for some reason I feel that saying them will create a new reality that will change everything. It will. It does. It's amazing to think that telling someone something will change their reality forever and yours. Good or bad, words are absolutely powerful. I think you can create someone's whole world with a few choice words. You can also destroy someone. I've done both and I've had both done to me, many times over and many more times will come, I'm sure. Both these things are happening to me simultaneously right now actually. I don't know if this is the same for everyone.

Even the absence of them will create a catastrophe. After all, did you ever really believe that choosing to omit words would mean they wouldn’t be heard? Mostly those ones just echo louder in our thoughts (more words) or are whispered in actions one chooses to enact but not express. In this case sometimes those words are twisted and broken and may be pieced together wrongly but still they are there and will create a reality that, intended or not, truly exists. Insincerity: the same.

So back to the meeting... There we are, adjacent; parent and teacher - leaning in toward each other (as I tend to do), when the topic of words came up. I bring it up, as a matter of fact: Did you get a chance to read the report (duh, of course! But, sometimes they don't)? Do you have any questions about anything I wrote? I've asked this question roughly 300 times over the years …but this time the parent cried.

She was grateful for the fundamental human thing I did through my words and that was to recognise something beautiful within another human. I wasn't amazed that my words could do that but I was humbled and emotional alongside that parent. She thanked me as I have thanked others for their words in the past and we talked at length about why it was so important for those words to be written.

Later that same night, in another meeting I was insulted by some words hurled at me via a different source. To be honest, at first I wasn't, but a day later I have to admit that the sword would have been an easier wound to heal than this one. Words remain. Worlds have been created. Another reality was built ...or torn down and rebuilt, whichever. Both, probably.

Words, I'm thinking about them a lot.  I'm thinking about the words that exist in silence and I'm thinking about the words that will never be said.  I have spent a whole lifetime in the wonderment of words and their meaning and the way that they can change a reality.  I wonder how they are yet to change mine.

I am wondering.

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