Thursday, February 18, 2010

Words: The Wound & Wonder.

 "No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world."
--Dead Poets Society.

There is a power in words, in how we use them, in how they are heard, and especially how they are interpreted. Sometimes words strike us in the exact time and way that we need to hear them. We take them to heart, internalize them, use them as a source of motivation or change. Words spur us on, help to shape us, make us think, and sometimes to even make us act.

We are not aware of the power of our own words. It is only in the past several years that I have begun to realize that sometimes what I say actually gets across to someone. Often, that moment occurs when I have said something to someone without ever expecting them to take them to pondering them in their heart. I don't often realize that what I say to someone can help them. So often I feel like I am unheard, that people don't listen to me, brush me off, or don't take me serioiusly. But then, then there are those rare sparks that happen when least expected.

My last semester of college was hell, (for more than one reason). I was struggling thru one of my classes in particular. Had it not been for three of my friends who were struggling with me, I doubt I would have handled it as well as I did. When the last day of the class came about, oddly enough on Cinco de Mayo, my three friends and I went out to celebrate our victory of survival. Over our margaritas and quesadillas we talked about how we made it thru one more semester as wannabe graphic designers. It was at this point in the conversation when my friend whom was sitting across the way from me remarked how she was loathing the very idea of taking the class. Then, she said, her encouraging smile emerging, "But I remembered what Lucy said. She said she was looking forward to it either, but that she was "going to keep an open mind about it." And that's when I decided to stop being so negative about it and keep an open mind. And you know what? It worked! We each said that were going to learn something from [our professor], and I did! All because I remembered what Lu said."

(A brief pause in my verboseness to point out that I had completely forgotten I had said anything of a sort. Needless to say I was struck dumb with the idea that someone had taken what I had said and put it to use for themselves.)

Ever since that outting I have been paying more and more attention to what I say, how I say it, and to whom I am saying it to. I have also been listening, (a very useful tool I have honed over the years), and seeing how other people use their words to impact others in a positive way. In retrospect, I can see how many times in the past I have said incredibly hurtful things to others because I wanted to hurt them and knew that I could wound them with my words, (I'm a Scorpio, what can I say?). So using my verbal power for good, not evil, is a much more complex and challenging endevor. One I am constantly learning more and more about.

Essentially, what this all boils down to is the cliche phrase that my algerba 1 teacher in high school would use relentlessly: "Say what you mean. Mean what you say."

Not as easy as it sounds, but nevertheless an honorable concept. I'm still learning to put those words into action on a daily basis. Still sometimes it is hard to just look at someone and tell them, "I love you", "Go away, you're pissing me off", or, even more hard, "I need your help". We're such a proud species, it's hard to say what we want when we want to say it. And yet, we continue to try. Sometimes, (often times), we fail. But everynow and then, we succeed without meaning to. Oh sure, there's plenty of negative consequences to saying and meaning, but, I'm going to keep an open mind about it. And I hope you will, too. :)