Saturday, August 2, 2014

It has to hurt if it's to heal

I love words, but the old adage that sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you is complete bullshit.  It defies Newton's laws of physics.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  If words can't hurt, then they also can't heal.  But they do both.  Words are powerful and painful.  Loving and hateful.  Kind and cruel.  And everything in between.  That's why a lot of people claim that they are not good writers.  Words are scary mother fuckers.  You choose the wrong one, take it out of context, add a different emphasis, and your compliment is turned to an insult in a snap.  Many people don't know what to do with that kind of power.  Some abuse it, while others try to control it, own it, master it, breath it, live it.  Give life to it.

I love words.  Even the stupid ones like big, fart, and moist.  Most of my life has been recorded in words, and it is hysterical to look back and watch how my use of language evolved.  The words I chose to match my meaning in 6th grade were simple.  Bland, but direct.

April 23, 1984

Today went smoothly execpt for Mrs. M.  She is a real jerk. (nothing new).  Something must of struck her 10,000 times.  I mean she was a jerk.  Tonight I did all my homework.  About the only fun thing in school is recess and VACATIONS.  At recess we help Mrs. G.  And on vacation we party!  I don't like all the subjects in school just a few.  Art, music, library, gym, language, and lunch.  I hate reading (Boring).  It is bad.  like my teacher.  Well times flying c-ya. bye-

(No date entered)
Dear Diary,

Today is the second to last day of school.  My teacher was wicked nice today.  I hate Michele and Stacy cause they always whisper about Mo and I.  I'm not talking to them at all.  

Bye bye for now.

My grasp on the dramatic power of words and appreciation for imagery and description evolved as I entered into middle school.

May 28, 1986 

Dear Me,

Today was a very terrible day, for one thing we had gym and music.  I didn't finish my french homework and Mr. V yelled at me.  I made up with Nicole and am worrying about my voice  So far in my life I've made out with 1 person, J.O. (gooshy & slimy)  I have a weird feeling inside me.  See me and K.L. were going out 4 2 weeks and that was a while ago.  Now I'm telling everyone I love M.L. but he's a dead cause because he's going out with J.B.  But I know deep inside me I'll always love K.L. no matter what.  I'd probably still be going out with him if I didn't waste 4 months of my life liking T.Z.  My life is so shitty i wish I was dead.  then I'd have no problems to worry about.  Well, bye.  I love M.L. even if I shouldn't.  

I find these entries hysterical.  They are the voice of a child long silenced by the passing years of life.  Had I not recorded her emotions, I'm not sure how I would ever recall that young girl.  That little me.  Perhaps we aren't supposed to, but then what is it all for?

Several events, whether banal or milestone adventures in my life, have been collected upon the pages of countless journals.  Reading the words brings pieces of my past back to life, if only for a moment.  Friends long forgotten are returned to me, and the memories of these scenes captured in words play in the theater of my mind.  My life's story.

Still, I continue to record my thoughts, for myself, for my daughters, for my readers--all 12 of you.  Each day I winnow through the puzzle pieces of vocabulary in my mind.   I  try to find the words that match the meaning of what I'm thinking and who I am.  Do they come together and create the right picture to show what I'm feeling, what hurts me, what heals me, and what brings me absolute joy and peace?

I found this poem midst my files, and it makes me smile.  I don't consider myself a poet.  I've made a few sorry attempts to craft poetry, but I struggle with the cadence.  The challenges of crafting rhythm and rhyme and diction into poetic form are greater than my lyrical talents.  It's enough of a struggle just to find words that flow together into sentences.

But this one, this one I like.  No, I love.  It brings me back to a place that felt simple and real, and I love that these words allow me to return to that place, even if only in my heart.

 “Midnight in the Kalahari”

I am white
Surrounded by dust
Connected by darkness and love
To a world that does not exist
A place that does not matter
A country?
A continent?
Is there a difference?
A distinction
So full of life.
What the world does not see
Kisses me good night.
The sun goes down
The night embraces all
Envelops me.
A million flashes crowd the sky
The magic flickers collide with the moon
The laughter of children
Traces the light.
No torch.  Only me.
Somewhere in the distance
Where I no longer want to be
Is home?
Is free?

 Yes, words will hurt, but they will also heal. 

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