As an aspiring writer, I’d like to think I traffic in words. That I have a pretty decent grasp on them, and can use them to adequately express my intensions. And because of that, the meanings are conveyed without confusion and without undue influence.
Right. And my side job is a secretary for the Tooth Fairy.
I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth so many times, I can taste the sole of my shoe before the end of the sentence comes. Over the years, I’ve become more cautious and choose my words more carefully. Becoming a step-parent as young as I did made me all the more aware of the words I chose…because nothing is more sobering than a two-year-old repeating them back at you. I have been on the speaking end of this foot-in-the-mouth disease so often, I’d forgotten what it was like to be on the receiving end of it. Until this week.
The rhyme goes: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. I’m sure whoever developed it did so with good intension to make children feel better about being made fun of. They’re just words; they can’t hurt you.
Whoever said that was a liar.
No, they can’t break your bones, but they can reach a deeper part of your soul where pain is defined on levels that could make DEFCON 1 look tame. If words couldn’t hurt you, then how can an author bring you to tears at the emotional climax of a story? How could they make you tighten the blanket around you and send your eyes darting into the shadows of your room as the hero searches for the bad guy you know is lurking? How could they make you laugh when the heroine says something witty at the precise moment of impending doom? How could they make your heart race, your palms sweat, your mouth go dry as you follow your favorite character’s path towards redemption or destruction?
Words don’t just hurt. They make you feel. They evoke emotions, fueling the fire of passion that lies within. I’ve been trying to teach that for so long, I forgot what it was like to be on the learning end. Lesson learned. There but for the grace of God go I.
Words are power. Choose them carefully, for once they are said, they cannot be unsaid. Unlike writing, life does not have a backspace button.