For as long as I can remember, I have been mesmerized and entranced by the intrinsic power of words. Through language, we can articulate our innermost thoughts and bring them to fruition. Words are the ultimate means of understanding and being understood, and they should be used accordingly.
The right combination of words can land you your dream job or help you close an important sale. The right combination of words can convince your colleagues of your credibility and charisma.
The right combination of words can spawn a political revolution. The right combination of words can enrage a mob or start a war.
The right combination of words can create a fictional world that a child will cherish forever. The right combination of words can assuage even the deepest of woes.
The right combination of words can cultivate a lifelong friendship. The right combination of words can cause you to fall in love against all odds.
I don’t know about you, but I marvel at the notion that an intangible thought in my mind can be conveyed through a distinct positioning of my jaw and vibration of my vocal chords, or portrayed by a certain series of squiggles on a computer screen or sheet of paper. Adding to this bewilderment is the notion that someone can interpret these sounds and squiggles, derive meaning from them, and contribute a unique response. It really is nothing short of magical, when you think about it.
We are blessed with the incredible gift of language, with infinite potential combinations of beautiful words, and yet we do so little with it. All too often, we speak before considering our message. We don’t use some important words nearly enough—the pleases and thank yous seem to have vanished from the average person’s vocabulary. My, how a simple “thank you” goes a long way. On the other hand, we overuse other important words to the point that they begin to lose their meaning. When someone tells me, “Oh my gosh, I love your shoes!” I want to reply, “Really, do you love them, or do you think they are stylish?” Instead, I smile and say, “thank you.”
Don’t say good when you could say marvelous. Don’t say mad when you could say livid. Don’t say sad when you could say morose. Don’t say nice when you could say amiable.
I very well could be in limited company by losing sleep over this sort of thing, as a bespectacled bookworm who owns a typewriter and has customer rewards cards at Hallmark and Barnes and Noble.
I suppose I think about words more than anything else. I find solace in the pages of books, immersed in the thoughts of a person I’ve never met and never will meet, imagining characters both beloved and detested, and traveling to distant lands that may or may not be invented.
The act of writing is one of immortality, as long as willing and eager readers exist. I have learned invaluable lessons from writers who lived long before me. From the sonnets of Shakespeare to the novels of Jane Austen, from the tales of Edgar Allan Poe to my grandmother’s journals from her youth—I have seen with abstract eyes the souls of brilliant writers from another age, and I carry them with me always.
In my short time on this earth, I have found that the most treasured gifts in life are intangible moments of human connection through words. In my experience, there simply is nothing more delightful than a truly meaningful conversation, a moving speech, or a superbly written story.
With words, we can connect with one another. With words, we can create something from nothing. With words, we can transcend time and space. With words, we can ensure we are never forgotten.
At the end of the day, words are all we have and all we need. Let’s use them wisely.