As I share my words, I will borrow from others.
“Your word is the power that you have to create. It is a gift.” -Don Miguel Ruiz
From the first words we speak to those who made us, to the words spoken about us when we pass from this world…words are with us, weaving the tapestry of our lives. They are the most basic tool of language, yet they are immensely powerful in defining who and what we are. A word can hurt or heal, inspire or hinder, connect or disconnect, encourage or discourage, as well as stimulate innumerable thoughts, emotions, and actions. Whether we’re speaking to ourselves or to others, the words we choose have a lasting effect which cannot be overstated. Choose your words wisely.
“A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips; — not be represented on canvas or in marble only but be carved out of the breath of life itself.” -Henry David Thoreau
Words have always fascinated and intrigued me. Where in my mind/brain are all my words housed? How did they get there? Words have always come easily to me. Whether it be a joke, a kind expression, or thoughts of empathy…the needed words have always been at the tip of my tongue. Thankfully, through the sands of time, I’ve learned not to always deploy them. In retrospect, my lifelong love affair with reading, writing, and observing the human condition laid my word foundation.
“I like good, strong words that mean something.” -Louisa May Alcott
My first recollection of the intoxicating nature of words was around a campfire in the dense woods of Minnesota during the summer of 1977. I was telling tall tales to a bevy of adults. As I held court, I was amazed how my words were affecting people. There were hoots, hollers, and belly laughs. I was hooked. That day, I earned a nickname: Mouth. As time passed, I began to see how words could help win the affection of those I desired. From love letters and poetry…to finally a proposal, expressing my feelings via words and waiting for the response has always provided a memorable rush. Will they land as I intended? How will they be received? The most important and beautiful word that I’ve ever received was merely three letters: yes!… The saddest words I’ve had spoken to me were: Grandma is dying.
“Appearance blinds, whereas words reveal.” -Oscar Wilde
There are few places where words matter more than at our school. From the playground to the classroom, the sensitive nature of our students’ developing minds makes the words we speak into them of critical importance. Developing and strengthening communication skills has always been the linchpin of success in one’s personal and professional life. In today’s world, where technology is often a barrier to really connecting with others and one’s self, this is even more true. In my 4th grade class, the power of choice is taught and practiced. Specifically, the fact that we are always able to choose and control our words. Similarly, in our Poetry Unit as well as in Writing Class in general, the power of words are emphasized throughout the year. Seeing my students experiment with the magic of putting words together for maximum effectiveness is like being in the kitchen of a master chef. From reading their writing pieces, it is easy to see that the 4th graders are in touch with themselves, life, and their emotions in a beautiful, powerful way.
“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” -Rudyard Kipling
If there’s anything I’ve learned on my journey with words, it’s that the power of words should be understood, harnessed, activated, and applied for the benefit of all humanity. Speak and think kind words to yourself and to those in your life. Tell those who you love, that you love them. Give someone a compliment. Uplift someone or a situation with the right words. Tell a joke. If you’re ever at a loss for words, remember that yours have power.