You gotta love how there’re just so many different inconsistencies in the world around us. I’d like to believe that I attempted to touch on one in my previous entry, which I s’pose would resonate with a smaller demographic group as it has its basis more in the roots of religion and Christianity and whatnot. Even with that opening statement, it’s not exactly anything new, as I’m of the opinion that anyone and everyone would concede that the world is a confusing place in which nothing is black and white. And while there are some things that may be more clearly defined between #000000 and #FFFFFF, there are more than other instances in our lives that are a mix of the two, even if we would much prefer that the answers be freely given to us.
Forgive me as I haven’t really written an entry in nearly a month, for which I’d like to blame a combination of both being busy with classes (not in the sense that I was devoting a lot of thought power into my work, but rather that it required the busywork of time to complete) and being lazy with a lack of inspiration. I guess that somewhat leaves me out of shape, in terms of my writing ability, because I think my introduction would leave you to believe I’m addressing a more serious topic than I intended. While it isn’t something controversial as, say, abortion or something, it still does wade in the waters of ambiguity. It’s something that we’re constantly engaged in, and without it, life would prove to be much more difficult than it currently is. Its presence allows us to conjure up something bigger than itself, and despite its seemingly minuscule size, there lies great power as a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
I couldn’t help but notice how funny the idea of “words” seemed to be. On one hand, there are times when words have little to no power in certain domains of life. We’ve all heard the cliches, such as “A picture is worth a thousand words,” “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” and “Actions speak louder than words.” I’m inclined to agree that a good picture can be much more expressive than words could ever be, there are occasions when a person is able to shed off the attack of words as dust off the shoulder, and the idea that its is the intention and committing the intention into action that is more important than the wisps of wind that words can generate. These instances in our lives, and the ability of words to properly address such areas can often times be insufficient in completing the task at hand. More specifically and perhaps personally, we’ve all had someone who may have said one thing but then go ahead and fail to follow through on their words. These moments can sometimes conjure up feelings of sadness, anger, confusion, and the like, none of which are feelings that we’d like to experience nor re-imagine. Such is the futility of words.
At the same time, it can’t go unsaid that there lies much power in words. That ole “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” can sometimes be blatantly false. If someone we know and love and trust suddenly starts spewing vitriol out at us, their intimacy with us allows us to be hurt a million times more than if some random stranger had verbally assaulted us. Just as words have immensely destructive powers, they can also be immensely uplifting. After a bad day or some less than satisfactory happening, a few choice words from a special someone can be more than enough to help us turn that frown upside down. There are even times when that upside down frown spreads beyond the face and warms us all the way to our core, a feeling of euphoria that doesn’t is often difficult to dissipate. The misuse of words in a specific setting can also be particularly dastardly, as seen in the constant attempt by the world to sound politically correct so as to not offend anyone. There are times when words hold great influence in our lives, which greatly contradicts their characteristic of insufficiency.
Having said all that, knowledge of all the above is great. Knowledge is usually the first key one must obtain in order to unlock a great understanding of something. But knowledge, in and of itself, isn’t all too useful. One must proceed beyond that to become a master over it to really be able to wield it’s power. I think there’s this really great example from the movie “Dead Poet’s Society,” in which Robin Williams plays a teacher to a bunch of school boys. In one of the particular scenes where he’s lecturing his students, he’s explaining to his students one of the many tools we are equipped with in dealing with various obstacles in our life, and how we can effectively utilize them:
“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted, Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and in that endeavor, laziness will not do.”
Words can have much power. Yet it takes time and dedication and skill to refine such an ability, and there are very few people we are able to truly master it. Now I guess I’m somewhat transitioning between written word to spoken word, but speech class has been a great new window in this adventure that is people watching, especially evident in the diverse group of people that can be found at community college. We recently gave our third speech, but it was our first formal speech (first was an informal “show-and-tell” of sorts and the second was an impromptu one), and the various abilities of people to control their speech in coordination with the stage presence and prepared notes was fun to observe. There were some people who obviously had their information down and seemed to have no trouble talking about their topic, but lacked the oratory skills and stage presence up front. Another definitely had great presence, but failed to deliver with it the air of professionalism that comes with a formal speech. Still, there were those who could look the part, but were immensely terrified of the spotlight, and resorted to using an inordinate amount of verbal pauses/nonsense words, such as the all-too-common “ums” and “like” interwoven into their speech. I’m not saying I didn’t commit any of those flaws listed above, and I’m not bagging on anyone for their inadequacies, as we’re all students in a speech class to learn and improve our speech abilities. I think. But what I think I tried to offer a glimpse of is how, while we’re all the same in the fact that we’re human and have grown up with words all around us, in the sense that we speak on a daily basis and hear these words from music, media, and people all the time, not everyone has a grasp on what words are capable of and how one can wield its power. Or even, to notice where there are realms in which words hold no sway, and other influences must be used in the appropriate situation.
Old and dead people, at least for those that were knowledgeable, insightful, or famous for something, often have their name etched into posterity for something they did or something they said. I’ll leave this entry with the words of some famous person named Plato, who may or may not have been one of the more intellectual folks of his time: “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.”